Keita Takahashi, creator of Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, is more interested in art, life, and his dog, than the work of his creative peers. He's more interested in going to the museum than going to the Game Developers Conference.
And he's not usually that interested in doing interviews -- in fact, Gamasutra never ended up publishing our most recent prior interview with Takahashi, because the editor who conducted it felt his taciturn responses weren't even worth transcribing.
So we were forced to tackle a tough question when it came to this interview: how to draw this private man, who famously would like to design a playground as much as he'd like to design a video game, out of his shell enough to talk about creativity.
We decided that the best idea might be to inspire him ourselves -- and we did that by bringing a packet of markers and a pad of drawing paper, settling down on the floor of the hotel suite Namco Bandai booked for the interview, and start drawing together. "We're just trying to keep the interview from being boring, since they often are," we said, by way of explanation.
In essence, we wanted to try and figure out what inspires Keita Takahashi by collaborating with him. It's a tough call -- and easier, probably, to find out what doesn't -- but hopefully this interview, conducted during March's GDC, and the photos and drawings which accompany it, will do a bit more to draw out the creator so many consider quirky and mysterious.
Christian Nutt: So, first of all, what have you thought of GDC so far? How did you feel about your presentation, and have you had a chance to see anybody else's stuff?
Keita Takahashi: I'm not interested too much in seeing what others are offering or showing, so this time I haven't really seen or attended any sessions. I spent time mostly at parks and museums and stuff, but haven't really looked at GDC.
There's a bit more to do; I went to the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, where I'd shown Katamari Damacy for the first time, a few years ago. So I was wondering what they were offering now, but it's no longer that interesting, what they are showing or talking about. I'm kind of wondering, you know, what happened to GDC.
CN: I don't want to make any presumptions, but is it that you're not interested in what other people are doing because you want to maintain your own vision, or because you just feel like it's too conventional?
KT: I rarely see something that really stimulates my imagination. I don't really find a lot of games out there interesting or entertaining. So I kind of see myself drifting away from looking at those titles. So that's how I am right now.
Mathew Kumar: You said you spend a lot of time going to parks and museums; is there something that you find inspiring about doing that, rather than looking at other games?
KT: I've somewhat stepped away from mainstream art since I'm making video games right now, but I find seeing stuff in the city and checking out the parks and museums -- I find that more inspiring than looking at other games out there.
MK: But I was wondering if perhaps the kind of experiences that you have, having fun exploring a new city or going to museums and spending things -- is that the type of emotions you want to bring across by something like Noby Noby Boy?
KT: There are unique things that you find and experience in environments like museums and parks. Noby Noby Boy is just my attempt to kind of recreate that same experience, something that I wanted to do to try out something that can only be realized in that particular environment.