Start of a 2-part story about Yoshi-P in Mexico.
#64: “High-End Raid: Campus Party Mexico – Intimidation”
Published in 2016/07/28 issue
It all began in February, when someone asked, “Yoshida-san, do you know about Campus Party?” I’d never heard of it before, so I responded with “Huh? What’s that?” Apparently, Square Enix America received a request for me to speak at the event. I knew absolutely nothing about it, so first, I had Square Enix America provide me with an overview of this “Campus Party” thing.
The event was founded in Spain in 1997 as a LAN party for youth (mostly university students) who were passionate about science, technology, and entertainment. They received a lot of support from businesses, learned societies, and the national government, and have since expanded to 9 countries. The request this time came from the Campus Party held in Guadalajara, Mexico.
As I’ve written about many times in this column, I don’t really like being interviewed, and prior to FFXIV I would turn down all interviews. However, giving lectures to students is something I’ve always done proactively; I’ve accepted requests for special lectures at several schools. I used to be a mere game-loving student too, and I got to where I am now because of the people I met along the way. So, I want to repay the favour where I can.
Though it was an overseas event, I would be speaking to passionate students, so I wanted to accept their request. However, when I flipped through the materials from Square Enix America and saw the list of notable past speakers, I was shocked.
- Al Gore, Vice President of the United States
- Stephen Hawking, PhD., physicist known for his research on black holes
- Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
- Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari
- And so on…
I laughed and exclaimed, “What!? They totally sent their request to the wrong person!” This had to be a mistake, right? The organizer must’ve been googling terms like “video games… Japan… FF…” and saw my name somewhere, mistaking me for the creator of the series.
In a conference call with Square Enix America, I rambled on and on: “Please reconfirm with the organizer. I think they got me mixed up with Sakaguchi-san (Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of FF, now president of Mistwalker). It’d be hard to bring up the mistake later on, right? ‘Oh no, we thought he was the creator! But it’s too late to say that now, so we’ll have to let him stay…’ And for me, it’d be like ‘Oh, they requested the wrong person! Oh no, I stick out like a sore thumb here…’ That would be terrible for both sides!”
However, the response I received a week later was not what I expected. No matter how many times I asked them to recheck, they said that the request was definitely for me. I asked them why and was told “Restoring a brand to its former glory, game design theory, business theory, leadership; the list goes on. Sorry Yoshida-san, but they seem to think more highly of you than you do.” I was still dubious, and said “Maybe they messed up, so they panicked and looked me up?” “The organizer who sent this request is knowledgeable in these fields and specifically asked for you, considering your popularity in Mexico.” “Uh, am I popular in Mexico? I had no idea…”
Campus Party Mexico started on June 29th, making it a tight schedule because of its proximity to E3. However, the keynote speech they requested from me would be on July 2nd at 4 p.m. when the most people would be present, making it one of the main features of the party. It was an honour to have so much prepared for me, and most importantly, I would be speaking to eager students. Despite my doubts, they really did want me, so I decided to accept.
I began to prepare for my presentation, but I didn’t know much about the game market in Mexico, so I had to do my research. I also asked the organizers what they wanted me to speak about: technology, game design, or business? I thought that I should focus on one of them since tens of thousands of university students were going to be there, but they apparently wanted me to avoid that.
From my own research, I found that Mexico’s game industry was still fresh. They’d been playing games for quite a long time, but it was only recently that Mexican game companies were founded to create games targeted at Mexicans. Video games are a form of entertainment, and you can only spend money on entertainment if your lifestyle allows for it. When politics and public finances fall into instability, video game sales are the first to drop. Looking at the history of the country itself showed me how hungry today’s students must be for more.
After consulting with the organizers, I decided that my lecture topic would be “Design Your Game, But Don’t Forget to Think Business.” The organizers told me that Mexico’s students longed for a video game industry, but their concept of it was still vague, and many of them thought that they could eventually become game developers if they just continued playing games. They didn’t know the logic behind games or what they should be doing.
That being the case, I decided to review the history of the video game industry from game design and business model perspectives for my presentation. I wanted them to consider the roots of the industry that they wanted to work in, and logically, what it would mean to work there. Moving forward without a clear understanding of the fundamentals wouldn’t be wise—it’d negatively affect their knowledge acquisition and development experience later on. So, in terms of a university’s annual lecture, this would be the first installment, and Mexico’s industry professionals could continue the series. I thought of it as them asking me to do the first lecture that would set things into motion.
Thus, I studied up on the game industry again and prepared my materials and script with the help of many others. It was shaping up to be a solid presentation, but I wanted to make it as similar to a university lecture as possible, so I added questions throughout. The biggest issue was that I’d never gone to university before, so I was basing it off of my own imagination. I was going into the Campus Party Mexico raid for the first time without reading a guide. The story will continue in the next arc: Ascension.