Back from TGS

I got back from Tokyo Game Show this morning. It seems like a long time ago now! I slept about four hours on the plane on the way back (through the typical east-to-west surfing bumps), and that was enough to get me through the day.
Weirdly, I’ve felt quite strange being at home today. Just as soon as I got in the door, I felt like putting my shoes back on and wandering around San Francisco. I suppose I’d just gotten used to being around a zillion people in Tokyo, and the enjoyment of wandering around an unfamiliar city. I really haven’t explored my neighborhood all that much yet, so this evening I took off for a wander and had a good time being around people. Snagged a brownie at the Metreon, wandered up to Union Square, checked out the jazz clubs, and then came back to my place, feeling much more settled. I ran into Mike Keith (former boyfriend of world-famous former Game Developer magazine editor-in-chief Jennifer Olsen) at my favorite local Irish Pub, which was quite peculiar. ๐Ÿ™‚
Okay, this Tokyo report is going to get quite long, so I’m putting it in an extended entry!

I flew in to Tokyo on Tuesday, got there late in the evening, and then headed to SCEI on Wednesday for some meetings. The meetings that day weren’t as productive as I had hoped, however, we did get hands-on with the new PS2. However, I thought this was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen:
These are electric controls for the window blinds: up, stop, down, and rotation. Wacky! A set of buttons is built into each post between windows. Upon further examination I discovered that this whole window/blind system is actually a second wall of windows, inside of the outer wall of the building (as you can see by noticing the piece of floor in the bottom right corner of the image.) Crazy!
Thursday I wandered around the city a bit, had lunch with my counterparts in Europe, and then want to the amazing Ninja for dinner. Our Ninja dinner has become an increasingly popular event each time I visit Tokyo. Ninja Akasaka is a restaurant totally themed like a Ninja training facility, including themed dishes and tableside magic! Here’s a shot of my lobster and grapefruit salad, which came in a grapefruit speared through by a short sword! When we pulled the sword out, smoke (dry ice) came pouring out the sides of the grapefruit. So beautiful, and tasty too!
Okay, on to Tokyo Game Show. I was surprised that the show was a smaller event than E3. From what I’d heard, I had expected it to be much larger. However, the attendance of TGS is certainly as large as E3, and perhaps larger, since TGS lets the general public in on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately, Friday is the business day, so we can get all of the party ticket trades out of the way on the first day, before the hordes arrive. ๐Ÿ™‚
Check out the huge crowds looking at the folks in costumes (cosplay). The cosplay participants line up along either side of this passage between halls, and the lines of people waiting to take pictures of them were quite long. I’ve never seen so many amazing digital cameras all in one place…
Cosplay is very popular at TGS, and I’m happy to report that there were at least as many women taking part as there were men. It’s nice to see so many women gamers! Okay, that said, there were also quite a few booth babes at the show, and many of the female cosplay outfits seemed to be designed for lechery. However, contrary to how that would be if it were in the US, the women seemed genuinely happy and enjoying posing for the cameras. As an “enlightened male”, I was initially puzzled by this. But by the end of my time at the show I found myself appreciating the booth babes and cosplay folks much more than at, say, E3, where all I can think about is how miserable the women in the tight clothes must be.
Some cosplay photos:
Okay, so now about the actual show… ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m happy to report that the PSP stole the show, although admittedly this was partly due to a lack of exciting software products. There were what — 20? — games playable for PSP, and most of them were in very fine shape. Most of the units were on the walls and attached via a thick cable to a development system. However, there were also a half dozen thin Japanese models walking around with PSPs chained to them, and these PSPs were running standalone. I hadn’t expected to see that!
Here are some floor shots, I think the reason I took each of them is pretty self-explanatory. ๐Ÿ™‚
Friday evening I attended the IGDA-Tokyo party (quite well-attended!), and followed that up by taking part in an amazing dinner thrown by Alan Yu (EA) and Akiko Ogawa (NanaOn-sha). In attendance were the designers of Ico and Katamari Damashii, Doug Church, Robin Hunicke, Justin Hall, Matsuura-san, and many others.
On Saturday I shot a bunch of cosplay pictures, but I bet Robin will have much nicer photos than I. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also shot the PSP intro videos, which were quite nice, but the videos the IGN guys shot are definitely better than mine:
Launch Video
Counting Video
The audio for both of these was amazing; the videos can’t possibly do it justice!
Okay, that’s all on TGS. ๐Ÿ™‚
A few other misc notes. If you haven’t checked out the new Logitech cordless PS2 controller, by all means hunt it down. It feels just like the standard controller, but it’s wireless! It’s awwwwwwwesome. Lovin’ it for Burnout3 and SlyCooper2.
One other thing. Here are some amazing pictures of Hurricane Ivan’s aftermath. Good luck to those of you weathering out Jeanne!