Game Market 1983 - Chapter 11

[1] Kang-kun is going to be speaking perfect English to Americans, remember the ability from the Game & Watch that allowed him to learn 2 foreign languages?
[2] You know, because no shop was selling console games and the branch manager thought ‘Kang-kun’ would beg the shop keepers to take in products from Mintendo

Since then, one month had passed. January 25th, 1984. I entrusted the Super Marigee cartridge production management to Shigeru-san, and I was currently in the U.S. along with Gunpei-san.

“Aaughh! Fuck!! It’s freezing!!! Why couldn’t you at least send us after winter passed? You son of a dog Yamauchi!!”

“Mmm? Kang-kun? What did you say?? I thought I heard the president’s name.”

“I was talking to myself in Korean.”

I dragged the suitcase that wasn’t even rolling well at all because of the snow, and I continued  walking on the streets of New York.


We entered a shabby hotel that the Mintendo’s U.S. office reserved for us.


What was that? I think something on the floor just cracked?

I mean, I can’t believe they would reserve a hotel like this for the employees from the headquarters. President Yamauchi is a bit unruly, but he tends to have an eye for employing workers…

Standing beside me, Gunpei-san’s expression didn’t seem too good either.

“Are all American hotels like this? The facilities are too inadequate compared to Japan…”

“How can that be? It’s not like people here don’t know anything about hotels; they must’ve just reserved the cheapest motel they could find.”

“Eyy, how can that be…The manager of the American branch, Yamata-san, is the son-in-law of our president. Would a person like that accommodate us like so?”

“Anyways Gunpei-san, I can’t sleep here. Let’s change hotels.”

“What!? If we move to another hotel, we would have to pay for it out of our own pockets?”

“You think I don’t have enough money to spend on something like this? We don’t know how many months we’re staying here; do you want to keep living here?!”

In the end, I dragged Gunpei-san and climbed into a taxi that was parked in front of the hotel.[1]

“Please take me to the best hotel around here.”

“Yes, sir~”

“Kang-kun, where are we going?”

“I asked him to take us to the best hotel in this area.”

“What?! L-Look here… Kang-kun, is this really alright?”

After a while, we arrived in front of a grandiose hotel with brilliantly glowing lights. It was unquestionably different from all of the other hotels in the downtown area; the decorations were filled with New Year’s celebration messages. Finally, a place that looks habitable…

“Yeah, it has to be at least this much in order for me to fall asleep.”

“This place looks too expensive! Uh? Kang-kun!? Kang-kun!!”

I ignored Gunpei-san’s voice behind me, and I entered the hotel dragging my suitcase. I was  about to be turned into a block of ice; this was when money should be used. It was a relief that I exchanged a sizable amount of cash just in case. As I walked past the bustling lobby to the front desk, a blue-eyed blonde haired beauty greeted me with a smile.

“How may I help you, sir?”

“I’d like to reserve a room please.”

“Did you make a reservation?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Ok. Would you like a single or double.”

“I’m planning to stay for about a month. Give me the best room you have.”

“Yes, sir~”

Gunpei-san blankly stood beside me, and he was desperately trying to understand our conversation.

“One… One month!? Kang-kun, did you just say you would reserve the best room in the hotel for an entire month!?”

“Yes… Wouldn’t it be best to wait for at least a month and assess our situation before stretching the length?”

“W-what are you saying right now? We didn’t come here to play; we have business here.”

“Who said anything about playing? Work is work and resting is resting. Wouldn’t we work harder if we had a good rest?”

“But reserving a suite room is too…”

“Wup… Gunpei-san, were you trying to share a bed with me in a single room?!”

“No, that was not what I meant~!!”

The game was already over. While we were going back and forth, the receptionist finished the setup and handed us the room keys.

“Thank you, Happy New Year~”

I took the key. I then headed to the elevator after thanking the receptionist.

“Haaa, how should I report this situation to the president?”

“You have a mountain of worries Gunpei-san. The hotel fees would be paid by me and not the company fund, so what’s the problem?”

The price for one night at the best hotel in New York in 1983 was $149 dollars per night. Of course, it added up to an enormous sum of $4,500 per month, but what was that to me~  It didn’t even reach the interest from the bank, so I stepped onto the elevator with a peaceful mind.

“Kang-kun must not know because you’re Korean, but, in Japanese society, how other people think of you is important… If our comrades in Japan found out that we were staying in such a luxurious hotel like this, they will definitely think that we came here to play around.”

There was a saying that the Japanese commonly possessed a Honne (Inner Heart) and Tatema (Outward personality). One never knew what they were thinking in their Honne, but their outward appearance exhibited a polite and mature mannerism. Maybe because their inners and outward actions differed vastly, Japanese people always seemed to be extremely conscious of what others thought.

“We just have to do a great job here and leave. Why do you have to scrutinize every little detail?”

Ah~ whatever~ I’m tired as hell after flying for almost 15 hours, and I’m too tired to even think about that!! I should take a hot shower and sleep.

“Kang-kun, money is great after all~”

An early morning after waking up from the cushiony bed.

That was the first sentence from Gunpei-san after waking up. So that was the comment he makes after whining while following me last night? I smirked and I came down from the bed and started organizing my luggage.

I was too tired last night, so I flung the suitcase somewhere. I ended up rushing to the showers, so it was randomly rolling around in a corner. As I threw a sneaky look towards the other side, Gunpei-san’s belongings were neatly organized; as expected from a Japanese person. This guy is so cheap… if he had the spare time, he could’ve organized my luggage too.

Gunpei-san was waiting for me with a burning cigarette in his hands at the hotel lobby after finishing his breakfast at the hotel. It was a common sight as anti-smoking laws in the 1980s were not fully developed yet.

As I carried my coat and briefcase, I entered into the lobby. Gunpei-san smiled and stood up from his seat.

“Well then, should we visit the American branch office?”

“Let’s do that.”

We took the taxi, and we headed towards the American branch office.

“Ah, are you two Gunpei-san and Kang Junhyuk-kun from Japan?”

My first impression of meeting branch manager Yamashi for the first time in the U.S was… a loser in its entirety. There was no liveliness to be found even in the morning hours of work, and, before anything else, the pungent smell of whiskey wafted over every time Yamashita-kun opened his mouth.

“Nothing will change from you people coming here; the console game industry is a complete dead end in the American market.”

His voice contained no hope at all. The son-in-law of President Yamauchi, who was said to have graduated from Tokyo University, was losing all of his fighting spirit in the American office.

Actually, the downfall of console gaming was caused by the Atari company, but it was also the period of a booming computer industry as well.

-A game device will ruin your child’s academics, but a computer will send your child to a university.

A marketing ad from a computer company that came in the hotel newspapers early in the morning – this seemed to deal the final blow to the console market that was barely heaving its last breath.

This was a piece of information that I didn’t know, but President Yamauchi had been testing the waters for the American market before Mintendo was released. The family console that was released on the 15th of July was already being contacted with dealers in the United States from April.

However, due to the game industry completely dying out, electronic stores or toy companies, no one was willing to make a deal with the Family console; without a single unit of sales, it was chucked away to a storage room. Yamashita-kun, who was fired up at the start, gradually started to lose his confidence. It seemed like he got drunk everyday.

There was no benefit in staying here any longer…

I breathed a long sigh, and I stood up from my seat.

“Kang-kun? Where are you going?”

“We should assess the current market first. I’m going to experience, first hand, just how serious the situation is.”

“Keke… Yeah, go ahead~ Oh right, it would be good if you stop by the pharmacy and pick up a band aid before you leave? You can at least slap that on when you needlessly provoke shop owners. Kekeke~”[2]

“First of all, Yamashita-kun, I’ll take one Family unit for experimental purposes.”

“Do whatever you want.”

“Oii, Kang-kun, count me in as well~!!”

We came out of the American branch office, caught another taxi and asked the driver to drive to the most famous toy store near by.

“Yamashita changed. He must’ve suffered through many hardships in America.”

“He seemed no different from an alcoholic?”

“President Yamauchi used to take great pride in him, how did he…”

Failures made humans more and more timid. A person who has not persevered through any failures would fall harder, like the current Yamashita-kun…

“Get the fuck out of my store!!!”

“Store owner, please listen to m-”

“Fuck off~!! Don’t bring in that gaming device garbage into my store!!”

The reactions were more serious than I had anticipated. It was the same whether it was electronics store or a toy store. The kind store owner was immediately startled, as if he saw some ghost, as soon as I took out the device from my box.

“This is… Yamashita-kun’s words were true. To think we would be rejected this harshly…”

Gunpei-san, who had his collar grabbed by the store owner, adjusted his necktie and sighed. So the game industry, as a whole, really was ruined… Then I should slightly change my plans accordingly? I put the Family inside the public lockers in the subway and started wandering around the toy stores.

First of all, let’s not reveal my identity as a salesperson and just inspect the toys. Then, I would at least be able to look around freely without the harassment from the employees.

As I wandered around, I stumbled upon a pile of randomly stacked game cartridges in the corner.

“What are these?”

“Th-they are Atari’s game cartridges. The supply is overstocked so we’re selling them for $1 each.”

Wow… one dollar, so they were selling each unit for 1,000 Won? It would not even pay for half of the production costs. It really fell down by this much… Now I could understand the violent reactions of those shop owners. Gunpei-san and I stopped in many different toy stores, but the situation was the same everywhere.

“This is really… there’s no space for even a needle to go through.”

“Yeah… I’m hungry, so should we get a little something to eat while we talk?”

I went into the taxi and asked to go to the most expensive and delicious restaurant this time around. Although Gunpei-san wasn’t as proficient as me in english, he clicked his tongue and spoke to me.

“Why are you always looking for the most expensive things the first chance you get? A person lives well by saving his money.”

“Then should we stop at a hamburger joint?”

“Uh? Th-there’s no need. Let’s go together.”

If he was going to come anyways, he shouldn’t say that in the first place. I fell into a deep thought as I looked out the windows into the city.

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