Once in a while, a Kickstarter project comes along that makes you want to drop everything and yell about it to anyone who might listen. This is one of those Kickstarters.
John Szczepaniak, best known for his work profiling Japanese games and game developers at websites like Hardcore Gaming 101, is trying to raise £50,000 ($77,000) to write a book about Japanese game development stories we've never heard before. His goal: fly to Japan, hire an interpreter, and spend two or three months talking to just about every game developer he can. Then he'll transcribe, put it all together, and publish it next year.
"I would treat this book as my full time job from July, all the way to April 2014," Szczepaniak told me in an email today. "It's mainly a book of interviews, so the heavy lifting will be done in Japan. Writing the questions, conducting the interviews, and then transcribing during the down time."
Check out the Kickstarter page for a sprinkling of some of the people he plans to interview. They've worked on an impressive list of games, from the well-known (Resident Evil) to the obscure (Dezaemon). And Szczepaniak says since launching the campaign yesterday, he's heard from even more interested parties.
"Everything with this book I've planned for assumes the absolute worst case scenario," he said. "A super strong Yen, certain interpreters being unavailable, designers who I can't get in touch with, and a large volume of work handled entirely by myself. I can manage this with the current budget goal and time frame. If even a few things turn out better than I've planned for, and I get even a little assistance from friends, then this book will be even better than I imagined."
Sounds fascinating, don't you think? There must be so many fascinating stories and tidbits surrounding Japanese games that have never made it to North America. Even today, we're still discovering secrets in the games we've played for decades.
"It's like my friend Jeremy Blaustein says," Szczepaniak told me, "there's an entire lost generation of game developers who have never had the opportunity to talk about their games, despite the fact that we, in the rest of the world, have played and loved them for years."