#69: “Time for Bed!”
Published in 2016/10/13 issue
I am writing this manuscript at 2:30 a.m. on September 20, 2016. It’s technically Tuesday, but since I haven’t slept yet, it’s still Monday to me. Tokyo Game Show (TGS) just ended yesterday, and while I was exhausted, I still had to review Patch 3.4 interview manuscripts and whatnot. Before I knew it, it’d already gotten this late.
I wanted to go to sleep, but when I checked my schedule, I saw that there will be two guests coming tomorrow, and my entire day will be taken up by meetings. I determined that it would be impossible to write this column tomorrow, so I’m doing it now. At first I lamented, “I should’ve done it before TGS!”, but my schedule back then was ruthless as well because of the Patch 3.4 checks. I convinced myself that it would’ve been physically impossible.
TGS apparently celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. I had no idea until our PR lead asked me to sign an autograph board for the charity auction. Well, I’d never counted. When I think about it, it’s been 22 years since I entered the game industry, so my career has mostly been progressing alongside TGS. I’ve written about the change in enthusiasm in a past column, so I’ll omit that here. Still, this year’s TGS was hellishly busy…
This year, TGS ran for four days from Thursday to Sunday. Thursday and Friday were industry days, while regular attendees could come on Saturday and Sunday. I was busy doing the aforementioned Patch 3.4 checks and preparing for the flood of overseas trips coming up in October, so I didn’t go to TGS until Friday, since I didn’t have any meetings planned on the industry days. That said, I had to appear on four live streams in those three remaining days, so after I got to Makuhari at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, I was stuck in rehearsals until late at night.
The number of live streams at TGS seems to be increasing each year—there are live streams going on everywhere you look. I was on four of them myself, so I’m part of the problem, but it does make me wonder if all of this is really necessary. Now of course, TGS takes place in Makuhari in Chiba Prefecture, so it’s difficult for people outside of Tokyo to attend. Even the staff who do live in the city look grim when you tell them they’ll be commuting in instead of staying at a hotel. So, live streams are useful because those who can’t attend can also get all of the latest information.
On the other hand, “not having to attend the event” can be considered a downside. For example, there won’t be any demand for TGS coverage in magazines anymore if you can watch the presentations on YouTube or Niconico. Even the game demos are now handled through numbered tickets distributed in the first hour of the day. For the popular games, you can no longer just arrive and wait in line for your turn. I think that that may be one of the reasons why the event is losing its fire. Social media has grown so much, and it’s become a society where users spread information by themselves. I feel that it would be better to consider a screening process for live streams; to create a balance between the ability to watch presentations and the passion you miss out on by not attending in person.
Ever since ARR launched, we’ve been participating in TGS and many players come to try the game. Many of them come from far away—this year, I had someone tell me, “When I woke up this morning, I suddenly decided I wanted to go, and I came here from Kyoto on the bullet train!” At TGS I like to wander around our booth and talk to as many players as I can, so I was a bit frustrated about having to do so many live streams. Amidst all of these players who spent so much effort to come to the event, some of them may have been eager to ask me questions in person…
While it may have been my live letters that started the trend of news streams from game developers, my intent was to use live streaming as a method of two-way communication. The idea came about when I thought of gathering questions from Twitter in real-time and responding to them in real-time as well. In other words, I didn’t start it for the purpose of “broadcasting information.”
I watched the saved recordings of TGS live streams from various companies and media outlets, and most of them fall under information broadcasts. There are also a lot of talk shows with voice actors and live event coverage. Even our live letter has had less time for Q&A sessions in recent times, so of course the same would apply to TGS. This gradually became the case because everyone wants to hear the newest announcements, but we try to resist it by addressing the players’ concerns at the same time.
Live streaming from the TGS venue costs a lot of money in equipment and management costs. That means it’s high-risk. You can’t have sponsors like a TV show does or play commercials, so you have to pay for it out of your own PR funds. Plus, if the stream is boring, it’ll have a bad effect on the product you introduce. You can’t just stream anything. That’s why companies hire voice actors or talented streamers, which adds to the costs.
This isn’t so much a criticism as it is a precaution for myself—we have to plan out our programs while keeping in mind that live streaming isn’t the answer to everything. If we do stream, we have to spend the costs required to inform as many people as possible about when and where the stream will take place and how they can watch it. Balance is key in all things.
By the way, it is currently 3:15 a.m.—I spent 45 minutes thinking and writing. Just like with live streams, whether or not I was pondering various things beforehand determines what comes out when I’m cornered. Now then, time for bed! …Or so I thought, but I still haven’t come up with a title for this column…
 The organization that runs TGS holds a charity auction where all proceeds are donated. Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t know it existed until I got this request. My humble thanks to whoever purchased it.