The state of indie in Japan (Jindie?)

Apologies for the recent dip in output. Life has a tendency to crop up on you sometimes, and the little time I have been able to devote to writing was done so in response to a request for an opinion piece for Gamasutra regarding the state of amateur and indie game development in Japan.

[Nikkei reporter Shin Kiyoshi] points out that the burgeoning amateur and indie development scene is helping push the creativity and competitive edge of the U.S. market to an extent that pushes Japan's own industry even further behind the curve. And Kiyoshi is certainly not the only one to have noticed this; more and more Japanese pundits and developers are, sometimes with only basic grumbling acceptance, noticing the growing gap between the two cultures.

And though there is some amateur game development in Japan, it is almost negligible: it certainly isn't allowed to encroach upon the established industry thinking that once made Japan a great nation of video gaming but is increasingly turning it towards mediocrity and obsolescence, save for a single digit number of exceptions.

Read the full article here on Gamasutra or here on GameSetWatch.


  1. Another interesting article! I've been meaning to comment on it for some time.

    Japan has independent development and lots of it. It has much more of a hobbyist feel than a "look at me, I'm going to run with the big guys!" attitude. Most doujin games are sold at large bazaar-type events like Comic Market which attract throngs of otaku and maybe a few curious, misguided individuals.

    A lot of the doujin games I've bought and enjoyed are well done, hard core games that few companies would deem commercially viable, except in the eroge(Erotic Games) sector. Canned Dogs has a good article in English relating to doujin vs commercially released H games.

    Ragnarok Battle Offline is a Guardian Heroes type game with the famous Korean MMORPG's character classes. Shanghai Alice creates very hardcore vertical scrolling shooters with some amazing soundtracks. They move a good number of music CDs on top of their games selling quite well.

    There are handful of doujin circles(or development groups) who have become professional. Gust, Type Moon, Arc System Works hired the circle that would go on to make their Guilty Gear cash cow. Tetsuya Mizuguchi hired a college student that made Every Extend Extra.

    There are plenty of doujin circles that easily have the talent to go pro. I've seen artists who draw their own manga who could easily go pro keep their art a hobby not a career. Seems a little mind boggling when someone is getting that good.

  2. I greatly appreciated your Gamasutra piece, JC. I've thought about the impact of indie games on American developers, but it never occurred to me to consider their impact on the Japanese industry.

    How odd that it is left to Microsoft to draw out and support indie developers in Japan. That is an unfathomably sad commentary, isn't it?

  3. Great article. Hey, You speak english..when are you going to release your very own indie thingy? ;)