documentary

Branching Paths: Japan's independent game scene

By -

Branching Paths is a journey through Japan's independent game scene. It tells a story of a struggle, not only for creative expression, but also survival.

Whilst it’s been almost 6 years since my last visit to Japan, I have many fond memories of my time there. In particular, I spent a few late nights in the various arcades scattered around Tokyo. Even spending a short time in Akiba, it becomes evident that the gaming culture in Japan differs greatly from accepted norms in the western world. Whilst I never really caught a glimpse of the independent game scene, an upcoming documentary might offer some insight before I return next year.

"Branching Paths" is now available on Steam and Playism! 本日「Branching Paths」リリース!SteamとPlayismから配信スタートしました! Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/494680 Playism: http://playism-games.com/game/287/branching-paths WEBSITE: http://branchingpaths.jp/ TWITTER: https://twitter.com/branchingpaths FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Branchingpaths VIMEO: https://vimeo.com/branchingpathsjp The Japanese video game industry lead the world in creativity and innovation from the 1980's to the mid-2000's, but in recent years Japanese studios had been unable to keep up with advancements in technology, and many have shifted focus away from risky projects and unique gaming experiences. All around the world, many players long to play games like those that inspired and excited them in their childhood. For industry veterans and young talents who aspire to the pursuit of originality and creative freedom, going independent is the answer. Japan has a history of independent creators building lively communities, even within industries where large media companies rule. Comic Market, and events like it attract more than 1 million attendees yearly. For the last several years, the Japanese game industry has begun to recognize the power of independent creators and the momentum of the fledgling scene, and in 2013, the Tokyo Game Show created a pavilion to feature indie creators for the first time in its history. Will this be the beginning of a new movement? With this question, we began our two-year journey through Japan’s Indie scene. Branching Paths is a mosaic of the developers, publishers and people who gravitate to indie games in Japan. ------- シナリオ 日本のビデオゲーム業界はその創作性と斬新さで80年代から2000年代までのあいだ世界を牽引してきた。しかし近年はテクノロジーの分野でその優位性を保てず、多くの日本の開発部は奇抜なゲーム体験やリスクの高いプロジェクトを回避する方向へシフトを変えるようになった。 世界では、多くのプレイヤーが、少年少女時代に遊んだかつての刺激的でわくわくするゲームを待ち望んでいる。 独創的で創造性の高い自由への希求を志す業界のベテランや才能ある若者たちは、独立するという答えに辿り着いた。 日本には、独立したクリエイターが活気溢れるコミュニティーを生み出してきた歴史が、巨大なメディア企業が支配する業界の中にさえある。コミックマーケット(コミケ)や、類似のイベントが百万人を越す参加者を年中魅了している。 ここ数年を経て、日本のゲーム業界はこのインディペンデント・クリエイターの影響力と、生まれたばかりのシーンの勢いに着目し始め、2013年には、Tokyo Game Showが公で初めてインディークリエイターを主役に据えたブースを展開することになった。 しかし日本のゲーム業界は実際に変わりつつあるのだろうか? 独立の代償は何だろうか? なぜ日本の政府はこれらの貴重な活力へ投資や協賛をしないのか? これらは私たちが、このユニークなシーンだけでなくその根本にある文化をも理解するために得た疑問である。その疑問に対する答えからは、芸術的な表現を模索する苦しみのみならず、生き残りを賭けた葛藤の物語が伝わってくる。 これは新たなムーブメントの始まりとなり得るのだろうか?この疑問を胸に、私たちは日本のインディー業界を巡る二年間の旅を始めました。Branching Pathsは日本のインディーゲームに関わるデベロッパー、パブリッシャー、そしてそれに引き寄せられた多くの人々が織り成す新しい世界を描きます。

French director @Anne Ferrero and production studio Assemblage at Indie Stream (part of TGS 2015), announced Branching Paths, a new documentary featuring Japan’s independent game scene. Filmed over a period of two years, the project begun as a series of video blogs where Yoshiko Kimura of Onion Games would interview indie game developers.

Young man sitting at a large tablet device. Gaming paraphernalia is scattered around his room.
Hard at work on his next masterpiece

From the Branching Paths homepage:

The Japanese video game industry lead the world in creativity and innovation from the 1980’s to the mid-2000’s, but in recent years, Japanese studios had been unable to keep up with advancements in technology, and many have shifted focus away from risky projects and unique gaming experiences.

All around the world, many players long to play games like those that inspired and excited them in their childhood.

For industry veterans and young talents who aspire to the pursuit of originality and creative freedom, going independent is the answer.

Japan has a history of independent creators building lively communities, even within industries where large media companies rule. Comic Market, and events like it attract more than 1 million attendees yearly.

For the last several years, the Japanese game industry has begun to recognize the power of independent creators and the momentum of the fledgling scene, and in 2013, the Tokyo Game Show created a pavilion to feature indie creators for the first time in its history.

But is the Japanese game industry really changing? What is the price of creative independence? Why is there no funding or support from the Japanese government? These are just some of the questions we examine, to understand not only this unique scene, but its roots in culture. The answers tell a story of a struggle, not only for creative expression, but for survival as well.

The trailer includes some beautiful key shots from around Japan, and it looks like a great documentary for gamers and Japanophiles alike.

Branching Paths: A journey in Japan’s independent game scene will be released in January 2016. Keep an eye on the Branching Paths homepage for further details.


Tags

, , , , , , ,