The CEO Asks Part 1

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Hello everyone. My name is Ohwada and I am currently heading Bazaar as its CEO. The blog title is something that I stole from the title of a column started by game console maker Nintendo’s late Company President Mr. Iwata, whose console I used to play when I was still a kid. First of all, I will tell you that this blog’s column has nothing to do with Nintendo.

To be honest I thought a lot about other ideas, but when I tried to come up with something that connects people in the game industry and its customers, I could not come up with anything else than this one title. While I fully understand it is very presumptuous of me to use the title, allow me to keep it as it is until someone scolds me for it.

For starter, I would like to welcome the very first guest, who is Bazaar Entertainment’s CEO Mr. Ohwada. I am thinking of trying to interview myself.
Next time I will be inviting various guests for this article, so please do stay with me.


「Welcome, Mr. Ohwada. Thank you for your time today.」


Ohwada「I feel that, it’s somehow embarrassing to have myself interview myself.」


「Let’s get straight to the interview, please tell us more about yourself. How is Mr. Ohwada related to game?」


Ohwada 「When I was still in elementary school, The Famicon I got from my dad after begging him was my first experience with games. Excitebike and Balloon Fight were the ones I was so crazy about, especially Excitebike where I made weird stages and asked my family and friends to play them.」


「So that’s when you started thinking you wanted to become a creator?」


Ohwada「No no, I was still in third year of elementary school after all. But I loved entertaining people. I did weird things. For example, I once strapped an 8mm camera that just got out at the time to my skateboard, slid it down a hill that was in front of my house while recording the video with the camera. I remember that in the middle of recording I fell off the skateboard and cried, but then I also recorded the sight of myself going home crying. When I showed the video to others it was extremely well-received.」


「For that young Mr. Ohwada, what then became the motivation for you to walk the path you’re walking today?」


Ohwada 「When I was in my third year of middle school I watched a program called ‘Silk Road Traveler’s Journal’ and I was utterly shocked by its cinematic appeal. At the time I did have an interest in film, but this was more like seeing the world you have never seen before expanding before your eyes, and I was like, “I want to see this with my own eyes!”. So I started thinking about how to go, then I thought of entering a high school that had China as its destination for school field trip, and eventually went to the one that had Mandarin as its foreign language course.」


「Normally it’d be like, start learning Mandarin language after you think of doing a part time job in order to be able to go on a trip to China」


Ohwada「It was essential to do so, is what I’d like to say but, at the time I didn’t think of such thing at all. “When it comes to a trip it must be school field trip” was the simplistic idea I had.」


「Putting aside the motivation, so you first got to know Mandarin at the age of fifteen. How was high school life for you?」


Ohwada「It was all about Mandarin language. I think somehow I ended up learning Mandarin every single day. In the first half a year we were forced to learn the pronunciations, then afterwards during the sensitive second year of high school life, together with the whole class, close to half a year was spent at a countryside university in China as part of our overseas study. There we drowned ourselves in Mandarin. When we got back from China we had become fluent in the language.」


「So then is that how you began to straight up walking down the China path?」


Ohwada 「The thing is, it’s not like that. I was actually fed up with learning the language and didn’t feel like learning any further. And that happened just right before college entrance examination. That’s when I somehow was able to take entrance examination of a college where I could learn about computers, which I had an interest in, and furthermore, where I could take the entrance examination in the language I excelled at, which was Mandarin.」


「So that’s how you finally got back to the entertainment world.」


Ohwada 「When I was in college, along with my friend we made a circle that made games as its activity. For example, at the time when VR had just come out, we made a game that allowed you to ride a bicycle while hunting mammoths with the help of a head mounted display on your head. The widely known meat with bone also made its appearance. Now that you come to think of it, that’s Monster Hunter isn’t it? We spent our days playing around like that, and the next thing you know it’s already summer vacation and I was in my fourth year. In Japan, most students begin job hunting during the second half of their time as third year students. The majority of these people will already have jobs before summer in their fourth year. The moment I thought that people around me had started their job hunting, I realized my juniors had also started their job hunting.]


「That seems like a nightmare I can imagine.」


Ohwada 「At that time my chance at job hunting was narrowed down to a mere three options. First was to stay in college for one more year so that I would be able to have a go at job hunting one more time. The second option was to go into graduate school. The last option was to enter audition for game creator that was held by Sony Computer Entertainment. Other than the first option that would put financial burden on my parents, I decided to do the other two, which meant taking the entrance examination for graduate school and entering the audition with my college friend at the same time. In the end I passed both the exam and the audition, and ended up living my days attending classes at graduate school during the day, and doing my work at Sony during the night.」


「What kind of projects did you do?」


Ohwada 「Anyways we were asked to write proposals, tons of it. It’s “if there’s a good idea, it will become a game!” that sort of stuff, but that kind of good idea didn’t come. Even if a proposal went through, I would be told that “it’s not suitable for a game”. If it’s only ideas, I’m pretty sure I wrote around 1,000 proposals in a year.」


「So you graduated from graduate school and started working vigorously towards game development?」


Ohwada「That’s what one would think, right? But actually it’s not like that. I was told that my proposals were boring and that it’s fine if I quit. It was vexing. I already tried my best. I was so frustrated that I just decided to skip work one day and went to see my high school classmate who lived in China. However even though my whereabouts for a while was unknown, my colleagues at Sony didn’t seem to care about it. So I got angry and wrote a China business trip report, although my trip that time didn’t have anything to do with business. I wrote that the information about Chinese game market at the time wasn’t conveyed properly, and that it’s possible to advance and expand into that market if you do it like this… and then…」


「I’m sorry that I cut you off in the middle, but this is it for the first part. Please look forward for the China Story next time!」

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