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  • Katamari Damacy – A Critique: Part One

    - Ryan Stancl

  •  Biographical

    One thing that a lot of critics do – or fall under the trappings of, depending on who one asks – is go to the artist, straight to the source, and find out about him, his life, what lead to the making of the work, and even listen to him about what he wanted to get across in his work.

    Keita Takahashi is the creator of Katamari Damacy. He delivered an hour-long speech entitled “Rolling the Dice – the Risks and Rewards of Developing Katamari Damacy” at the Game Developer’s Conference 2005, which is where the majority of the following was gathered.

    He is a sculptor that came on board with Namco to create video games because he thought the video game industry sold pleasure and amusement.

    It turned out not to be very fun.

    He is sick of the narrow field that video games have become – the sequels, the franchises. But didn’t he make a sequel?

     From an article in which Takahashi sat down with, “Takahashi never wanted to make a sequel for Katamari Damacy. Like many critics, he views the proliferation of lengthy franchises and endless sequels as a major sticking point for creativity within the industry – although he acknowledges that there is certainly a market for those games, it’s not one which will ever attract new players or lapsed gamers,” (Fahey, 2005).

    It seems that he found enough of a reason to make a sequel – “‘I didn’t want players to be disappointed, so I decided to take part,’” (Hermida, 2005), but wouldn’t elaborate much, claiming that it would sound like he was making excuses. Whatever the case, he did stay on for the sequel, We Love Katamari, but not for the new PSP release, Me and My Katamari.

    Whatever the deal is with the sequels, the fact remains that Takahashi managed to create fun games in spite of the overall atmosphere he had to thrive in.

    When he set out to create the original game, he wanted: “Something new, something easily understood, something enjoyable and fun, and something that could only be expressed in a video game.” What is the place of video games in this world, he wonders.

    Games are ultimately unnecessary.

    “‘Because games are essentially meaningless, don't they need to be stimulating and embrace this meaninglessness in a punk rock style to remain entertaining?’” (Fahey, 2005), he asks.

    'Everyday life is full of many fun and stimulating things. The feeling of just riding a bicycle or the sensation of sand on bare feet when you walk along a beach […] the happy feeling you get when you just decide to skip, or the increase in heartbeat when you decide to stop in the middle of a road crossing. You couldn’t really say that they're punk rock things, but all of them are stimulating, and all of them help to make you realize that everyday life can be quite fun as well. Things like these have ended up making me think that you don't necessarily need games to have fun, and you possibly don't even need games at all,’ (Fahey, 2005).

    What’s funny is Takahashi really does feel that people are better off playing outside experiencing ‘real life’ rather than playing video games, but he’s offering up a different experience, a different stimulation for those people that want it in the form of a video game.

    “I’m not trying to help people escape reality or vent frustration – rather, to make daily life more fun by giving people a fun game to play once in a while.”


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