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Inafune: Japanese Developers Need Heroic Inspiration

In a recent interview with Gamasutra, former Capcom R&D head Keiji Inafune says Japanese game development is affected by a lack of courage, and needs a heroic force that acts as a beacon of hope.

In the wake of a worldwide economic slowdown and this Spring’s devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Inafune said he felt something important has changed in the mindset of many Japanese companies and workers.

“People just aren’t hungry enough any longer,” he told Gamasutra. “There aren’t as many companies, or managers of development studios, that really want to succeed or accomplish something, so there needs to be something that gets that feeling back.”

“We need a game, or something, to give us more courage to go in that direction,” he continued, “and the problem is that game can’t be made.”

Inafune notes that American movies and games have a consistent tradition of “a strong hero who’s always the central point of the story. … No matter how bad the economic situation is, there’s always that hero, and he helps people and saves the world without really being employed by anyone to do so.”

While Americans who grow up with such stories are inspired to work heroically through tough times, Inafune says today’s Japanese media aren’t presenting such messages in the way they did when he was a child.

“It’s a bit of a strange way of putting it, but I think the problem lies in the hearts of the creators,” he said. “There are other issues, as well, but that’s how I feel.”

The full interview, which includes more discussion of the Japanese game industry and Inafune’s current work on social games, is live now on Gamasutra.

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