On the 12th and 13th of October, the first ever Game Conference for Southeast Asia, SEA Summit, was held in Singapore. It consisted of two full days of sharing and discussions with game developers from all over Southeast Asia and Japan. To name a few, Agate, Bandai Namco Entertainment Singapore, IGG, Landshark Games, Witching Hour Studios, XFlag and even Square Enix graced the event. To top it all off, it lead up to GameStart Asia 2017, where game developers from Asia gathered to showcase their latest games, and where the SEA Major was held.

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Source: Richard Chan, IGDA Singapore’s Facebook page

Besides being a great platform for these developers to learn from one another about designing games and marketing strategies, one of the key reasons for organising the summit was to encourage collaboration between the developers. Needless to say, it is essential to bring everyone together and give them the opportunity to network, creating the spark of collaboration or even friendly competition. All for the sake of cultivating the ecosystem of the video game industry in Southeast Asia.

Among all of the erudite discussions, one of the greatest highlights of the summit was a discussion with Yoko Taro (Director, NieR: Automata) and Yosuke Saito (Producer, NieR: Automata). As with most of his public appearances, Yoko Taro donned his usual headgear during the interview to protect his face from being photographed (image below).

When asked about how he designs his characters and the world setting, Yoko Taro gave a very down to earth answer regarding the process. Most importantly, his works have to be able to fit within the budget provided within the stipulated period. Following which, considerations such as what the fans of the series desire and the overall story comes into play. Only after all the mundane preparatory planning has been done, he lets his imagination take the wheel… Under the influence of alcohol, he sheepishly admits. Yoko Taro then quickly explains that the ideas he comes up with when tipsy are better received than the ideas he comes up with while sober.

Yoko Taro also addresses one of the most popular sentiment that he always receives: why are his stories/creations always so dark? He then gave a very grave yet realistic response to that. The world we live in is not perfect. There are countries being plagued with war, chaos and suffering; as long as humans have desires, they will compete with one another and will not stop until they achieve what they set out to do. In other words, if we do not find the current world we live in dark, he does not see a reason why players see his game as dark. After all, his creations are but just a reflection of the world through his perspective.

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Source: @ivankira, Twitter

In the subsequent discussion with Yosuke Saito, he tackles questions regarding his role as a producer and the production of NieR: Automata. One of the questions raised was about the potential problems that were faced during the production of the game. His response was direct and rather candid; citing the discussion the audience had with Yoko Taro just earlier, Yosuke Saito whispered “He (Yoko Taro) is a crazy right?” with an expression of seeking reaffirmation. Yosuke Saito then proceeded to describe his worries about Yoko Taro not being able to work well with PlatinumGames Inc., and having Yoko Taro move away from his family (to Osaka) for the duration of the production.

Much to Yosuke Saito’s relief, Yoko Taro stayed strong throughout the production and the staff at PlatinumGames got along well with Yoko Taro. While there were other hiccups along the way, none were too great to be overcome, allowing for the relatively smooth shipping of the NieR: Automata that we see today.

All in all, the SEA Summit was considered a success with a pretty healthy turn-up from countries all across Southeast Asia. With the video game industry growing steadily in Southeast Asia, we can expect to see more games entering the global market in a few years to come. Perhaps each game will bring more variety to us Gamers and even more stories to sink our time into.

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