I recently had the good fortune to be asked by the lovely PR firm that looks after Buena Vista in the UK to attend an evening at The Kingly Club (formerly the infamous Pinstripe Club) with Tetsuya Mizuguchi - the former Chief Creative Officer of Sega's United Game Artists game division - who was talking about his new creation - Every Extend Extra.
Now I know very little about gaming - but I am enthusiastic about meeting creatives from parallel fields - architects, designers, musicians, filmakers etc etc. so this was a must. I was supposed to interview him earlier in the day but time pressure put paid to that. Ho hum.
Tesuya - a brief history:
Now Tetsuya is a fascinating individual - he is considered to be the Godfather of gaming and has worked on many of the most famous titles including Sega Rally Championship, Space Channel 5 and Rez and for the most successful companies - Nintendo and Sega included. He now runs his own company Q Entertainment where he gets to do the things that he likes best - overseeing and bringing his visions to life and exploring the hidden subtexts that exist in the relationship between form and sound and portability of media.
His influences and background
When he was at uni he majored in media aesthetics at Nihon University's Faculty of Arts - which is interesting - and only got into gaming through an interview at Sega - the rest is history.
Besides designing video games, Mizuguchi is incredibly interested in directing music videos - and the link between music and art - however you want to define it - is close in his world. He already works with various DJs and music producers for the soundtracks of his games - He kept repeating the link to art and cubism and music and I got the impression he was talking about synaesthesia - the strange way that some people can experience moods and sounds as colours - among other things.
Synaesthesia, hidden meanings and the future of gaming
He was clearly very tired and was having trouble with his English but I did pick up a few things to share that are worth examining such as how he sees an inherent link between art and music, shapes and forms, behaviour and music, the chain reaction between them.
So I decide to look into this and I found out he once designed a game called Rez - which was dedicated to Kandinsky so I am led to believe - and guess what - it turns out Kandinsky was a sufferer - so was Hockney, Hendrix, Syd Barrett, Sibelius - there is quite an impressive link. Now at the time I had made a note that he was referring to a sort of immersive experience where sound and music are entrained through the user experience as a sort of experiential futuristic sartori. And it turns out that is approximately right.
What a long strange trip:
My scribbles are all about sounds as movement and as as shapes - I was thinking about the Grateful Dead and how Mountain Girl would sync the light show that reflected the tonality and mood of the improvised music being played in the late 60s and early 70s - the lights being as important as the music - a totally immersive experience heavily influenced by LSD at the time of course - but totally interrelated. This is the same principle exactly that he was sharing - I think.
He once said in an interview that his inspiration was imagining if those artists that only had canvass to express themselves had lived now, with all these new tools, what kind of things would they make, in entertainment or art? Good question - this is a great way to look at how one sythesises information and inflences to create new forms and ideas - perfect for plannners.
Where to now?
Well this was a great and unique glimpse into a world I had little or no idea about - other than witnessing images through Matrix - or creating worlds in my own mind through reading things like Snowcrash - essential for planners to understand the potential of a digital world IMHO and I am very grateful to have met such interesting people - I am now going to start to play Rez, Every Extend Extra and Lumines - one of his other games.
I am inherently interested in synaesthesia and wish to explore more about how it works because I think it might unlock something about the potency of moving images and emotions and how the semiotics of colours (logso packaging etc) could lead to new connections and possibilities. Now that was a worthwhile evening! Superb!
Cheers Gary, Ruben and Matt