Game Market 1983 - Chapter 9
“Currently, nobody is willing to jump in. Thus, if you take the risk and do so, you would be able to monopolize the market as the president of Mintendo.”
“A monopoly~ Haha. That’s truly a delightful thing to hear as a business man.”
President Yamauchi wildly laughed as he must have liked my answer.
“You talk about very interesting stories, just like Gunpei said. You’re young for sure; however, you have a view that makes it seem as though you can see through to the future.”
After president Yamauchi said that, I felt a prick in one corner of my heart. He didn’t age for nothing; there was a saying that as you get older, you may lose sight in exchange for wisdom…
“But… You know what… There’s no meaning in succeeding just within Japan. Rather than being restricted to a tiny island-country, we have to break through to the American market to call it a true success.”
“Doesn’t Mintendo currently have a branch in the States?”
“Yes, but it’s focusing more on the toy business than the game industry. The game industry in the U.S. is currently completely dead due to the Atari Shock. I’m saying that no toy shop is ordering our Family consoles.”
Even in the states, the 1980s was a period where toy shops ordered gaming consoles and sold them rather than the gaming-specific stores that sold them. In other words, no matter how great a gaming device was, if it couldn’t get passed to the toy store and be displayed there, there was no where to sell them; thus, I answered like this.
“We can say they’re not games.”
“What!? You’re saying we should not call a gaming device a gaming device? You must not know something since that’s against the product seles regulation.”
“Put a simple robot that moves back and forth with the package and call it a toy.”
President Yamauchi stared at me with a bewildered expression before picking up the phone on his desk and dialing a number.
“Is this the overseas department? Come here right this instant, to my office, and take in this new recruit.”
This was how I was not assigned to the game development department nor the console invention department, but the overseas branch.
Something was not right here?
Hey you bastards! I’m a game developer!! You’re making a big mistake!!!
The next day.
I opened my eyes in the dorm that Mintendo had provided for me.
Hmm… This is worse than a hotel, but it’s the housing that Mintendo provided~ Eh~ It’s not bad? More than anything else, it’s close to the company; I felt like I was being bred for work, but I’ll just say that’s because of my mood.
To think that the start of the day for this company in the 1980s began with morning exercise… I stood in front of the office building and moved according to the instructions of the announcer. I tried to do the exercises half-heartedly at first, but seeing the employees around me pouring their heart into the movements, I also tried my best to follow the announcer.
“Let’s. Work. Hard~!!”
As the last command ended, the employees of Mintendo marched forward like soldiers with a stiff walk.
“I’m going crazy…”
I muttered in Korean as I followed behind them. The 1980s was a strange period in time where collectivism was valued above individualism.
“Mr. President, why is Kang-kun being assigned to the foreign office department? I recommended him so he should obviously be placed in the device development team…”
“Hey Gunpei, you introduced him to me and now you’re just trying to slurp him away to your own department? Mr. President, I had a conversation with Kang-kun and I firmly believe he should come to my software department.”
“Shut up!! I interview every employee and place them in the department that’s best suited for them. Kang Junhyuk is going to the foreign office department no matter what. His resume even has English listed as his special skill; on top of that, this guy will deal a huge blow to the American market!!”
The three leaders who would be the major figureheads of Mintendo were fighting over me. As soon as the news was announced that I would be designated to the foreign office department, Mr. Gunpei and Mr. Shigeru immediately came to the president’s office and made a ruckus to take me away.
“Hey you bastards!! I’m the president!!”
Mr. Gunpei and Mr. Shigeru had no choice but to close their mouths after President Yamouchi’s furious shout. I, who was listening to their conversation in the corner, almost bursted out in laughter. I mean, how joyful was it for them to fight for me, to bring me to their department?
But I couldn’t let this situation go on so I carefully eased my way into the conversation.
“Excuse me, but can I say something?”
“What? A newbie wants to talk when the top brass is discussing? You sure are confident. Alright, let’s hear what you have to say.”
“I thought there would be no end to this so I’ll arrange a simple traffic control.”
“Traffic control? Your analogy is great? Haha!”
President Yamauchi brazenly laughed it off. As expected, he was a man with a quick temper and made decisions immediately.
“First of all Mr. Niseko, I believe that I gave you all the advice that I could give for the mobile device. If you implemented a screen that organically displayed the graphics and a cartridge system for the games, the prerequisite to the next model would be perfect. It’ll be difficult to make the performance better than the current 8 beat Family console so in exchange, try to lower the price as much as possible. The current price of the Family console is 14,800 Yen so it should at least be lower than that so the customers would be more open. If there is a way to lower the price by just 1,000 Yen, proceed to do so.”
“Hmm…. That’s undoubtedly correct. We can make our own cartridge system; as for the organic display, the only problem would be finding the best possible unit price.”
“We can expect massive orders once it goes into production so try to bulk order the parts beforehand. That way, we can acquire good quality materials for a reduced price.”
As I said that, President Yamauchi stared at me and muttered.
“Look at this man? You’re well informed about business dealings with your young age.”
I turned my head toward President Yamauchi and flashed a smile.
“Next, President Yamauchi. I don’t have any qualms about placing me into the foreign affairs department. If you give me a chance, I will try my best to make the Family console a big success in the American market. But…”
“Please don’t put me as a cannon fodder in the battle field without even a weapon.”
“What are you saying?”
“The current Family console is in its beginning state, even in Japan. The only title that could be successful in the U.S. is Donkey Kom. If it keeps going on like this, we will be called a ‘Donkey Kom machine’ and none of our other titles will sell. Currently, we are supplying the device and the software for the users, but in the future, the arcade companies would turn their gaze toward our Family console.”
“Then can we simply let time take its course?”
“Of course, that’s where Mr. Shigeru comes in. At present, Mr. Shigeru is the best candidate for developing a game concept that would be a big hit. We should capitalize on this opportunity and go into production at the same time with the title. If it’s possible, how about making the board parts and sending them to the game centers in America beforehand? I think it would become an incredible weapon for when the Family console is released in America.”
Now~my ‘Traffic Control’ here is done.
“This is the end of what I wanted to say.”
“From all the years that I was the President of Mintendo, this is the first time I’ve seen a employee that could confidently charge in and speak his mind. Yo Gunpei, are all Koreans like this?”
“I- I don’t know?”
“Your personality is like a breath of fresh air~ Alright, I’ll let you do what you want. Shigeru, take Kang-kun and quickly start making that Marigee or Massagee or whatever.”
Shigeru replied with vigor, as if he was satisfied with the President’s decision, and circled his gaze to me. Yes~ Let’s make it together. A legendary game that would be the biggest hit in the entire world…
“This is not right… Why is this so awkward?”
“Ah Kang-kun, you came at just the right time. The application of the Side Scrolling technology for the new Marigee game is proceeding smoothly, but don’t you think the movements look awkward?”
“Ah~ Is that so?”
Mr. Shigeru and I were concurrently sharing a project, so it was very fun for me. The basic formula for Super Marigee was being coded at a crazy speed with Mr. Shigeru and I working together. However, for the past few days, Mr. Shigeru was resolutely moving Marigee around in an empty stage.
I already had a possible solution to the problem, but I didn’t spoon feed him the answer. Was this like how one might feel when they looked down at a student taking a test while holding the answer sheet?
If I told him the answer, Super Marigee would be released that much faster, but I was waiting for a special something right now.
Time flew by and on a certain day in November.
“Mr. Shigeru, the demo disk for the Family console has just arrived?”
“Ah, I’m a little busy right now so please put it on top of that table.”
Mr. Shigeru, who was intensively researching the movement of Marigee, did not even take a glance at the package that the employee brought. Mintendo took the lesson from the Atari Shock to heart and was directly inspecting the games that would be produced for the Family console. The inspection was a system where, we at the inventions team, personally tested the games and if it was satisfactory, we would send it to the cartridge manufacturer. If it was to be compared with 2015, it was similar to how an application producer would have the app tested before it was released in the app store.
I opened the package that was on top of the table in the place of the busy Mr. Shigeru. The package was from a strange company by the name of ‘HEG’ research facility. The moment I looked at the name of the sender, my fingertips wildly trembled.
‘It came. It finally came!!!’
I quickly tore open the package that was from the sender, Katawa Satoshi. The label on the small floppy disk read ‘Balloon Fight’.
Yes, this was what I’ve been waiting for all along!!
“Kang-kun? What’s the matter…?”
“Mr. Shigeru, do you want to play this game together as a mood refresher?”
“Should we? Ah~ I can’t figure this out at all… It was moving left and right according to my commands, but why is it that when the Side Scrolling is switched on, I feel this frustration welling up?”
“Let’s cool our head and play this instead of thinking too deeply.”
“I think my already terrible mood would get even worse when I play this kuso game?”
“But we’re gonna have to test this out anyway.”
I sat on the stool along with Mr. Shigeru and turned on the floppy disk that the HEG research facility sent us.