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The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Gold Paperback – 4 Aug 2014
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About the Author
John Szczepaniak is a journalist, novelist, and copy editor. He's written for Retro Gamer, GamesTM, Official PlayStation Magazine, Game Developer Magazine, Gamasutra, The Escapist, GameFAN MkII, nRevolution, 360 Magazine, Play UK, X360, Go>Play, Next3, The Gamer’s Quarter, Retro Survival, NTSC-uk, Tom’s Hardware Guide, Insomnia, GameSetWatch, Shenmue Dojo, Pixel Nation, plus others.
He frequently contributes to Hardcore Gaming 101, where he helped put together The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures book, and was managing editor on the Sega Arcade Classics Volume 1 book.
John has been doing this for over 10 years, and has interviewed over 200 people. He also enjoyed a six month stint as Staff Writer on Retro Gamer and three years as sub-editor at Time Warner. He’s licensed by the UK’s Royal Yachting Association as a naval skipper, and also holds a Marine Radio Operator’s license. MENSA certified, speaks Japanese, programs indie games, and brews wine.
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The generic format to the interviews themselves was no doubt done to reduce the time required and present a standard format to replies, but it had the knock on effect of too many questions being answered by those approached, with replies along lines of them not being able to answer as they worked in another department or simply do not have the answer and that does not make for interesting reading.
They were also allowed at times to go off on a tangent and wander aimlessly off the topic of what was asked of them.
At the worst case it felt at times like the tail was wagging the dog and the person who was being interviewed was more in charge of where interview was going than person who was asking the questions.
For the price the book demands, it was dissapointing to see the book in need of some better text format choices, so many black and white photographs and basically in dire need of a decent editor to sharpen up the interviews, present a better form of indexing etc, so the reader can navigate to specific figures of interest, without having to wade through the obscure developers who worked on obscure games, to find the higher profile content.
There is an amazing amount of content to be had and if you can stick with it, you will no doubt find it rewarding.
I found it a little too amateur in terms of presentation and interview format, to justify the asking price and to convince me to purchase future volumes.
This book aims to get at some of these stories and record them for the history of our hobby before it's too late. Many classic developers have sadly already passed on in recent years without ever being properly interviewed so Szczepaniak's quest to act now before it's too late is admirable and translates into an excellent book.
The book itself is huge at 526 pages and while the insight and facts from those interviewed are fascinating on their own, it's also the excellent informal style of interview that makes the book so great to read. You get a real sense of the Japanese culture, how the industry was in the past and so much more from reading about what these people have to say. Chances are, you will also recognise games and publishers/developers along the way and learn new things while simply enjoying the flow of the conversations within the interviews.
To sum up, I found this book a real page-turner and I'm just glad that somebody made it their mission to preserve a part of history that we as gamers take for granted. I would recommend this book to anybody with an interest in retro games, Japanese games/culture or the history of gaming and hope that as many people as possible support this for the sake of further volumes.
This then was the culmination of a long-held dream - to visit Japan and talk directly to as many developers as possible. The end result? Perhaps the most in-depth and personal view of the Japanese gaming scene ever printed in English. From tributes to deceased developers to the efforts being made to preserve the history of Japanese gaming, John uncovers many fascinating anecdotes and previously untold stories.
With Japanese companies often hiding employees behind pseudonyms, tracking people down was hard work. With extensive screenshots,rare design documents and sketches of old offices, the book is well illustrated (in black & white throughout). John's love of Japanese gaming comes through, resulting in a must read for anyone interested in what really happened behind the scenes.
I learned about this book in Retro Mag, and I thought it was for me, I love Japan, I love games and I make games.
I've only started reading it. I started with the interviews of Ryukish07 and Uchikoshi because I am a huge fan of their work. I thought I knew all about them but I didn't. This book makes you feel really close to those people. It's not just about the games or the developers, it's also about the culture, the secrets and littles stories of what made the japanese game history.
It's difficult to describe the feel of this book, but I can tell you it's incredible to read!!