Note: Do not re-post the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation. For additional information, please read this post. This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect Masahiro Sakurai. The following is a selection from Masahiro Sakurai’s book: Think About the Video Games. If you enjoyed this article, I would strongly encourage you to support Sakurai by buying his books. If you have any questions about this article, please contact the administrator.
Hi everyone, I’m a new translator/contributor for Source Gaming. In this article, Sakurai shares a slightly humorous story revolving around his “amazing” desk and its surprising selling point. I hope you all enjoy reading and look forward to more articles in the future!
Think about the Video Games Vol. 25, October 17th, 2003
An Amazing Desk
After becoming my own boss, I had to start getting by all on my own. First things first; after thinking that I really needed to do something about my chair and work desk, I set off searching various department stores. At any rate, chairs and desks are things you’re going to be putting in your own home, so if you get one that doesn’t suit you, I think you would be liable to become tired and doze off. Of course, it’s my own fault that I’m just lazing about!
A desk is something that will stick with you for a long time, so I thought that I needed to find one that was just right. However, with each passing thing I saw something was lacking. Hmm. What to do? What to do? Then, at last, “ta-da!,” I was able to find a desk that really stood out!
That was the “Alumi Emotional Desk,” sold by a company called Booth.
However, this is a desk in a different sense from your run-of-the-mill work desks. First of all, the desk is primarily made of cast aluminum (a process in which aluminum is melted and then poured into a mold). The design efficiently incorporates a curved surface and a glass top that goes together perfectly in an office setting. Also, for some reason, all four corners of the desk even light up!
In addition, it has speakers on-board. With speakers on the left and right sides towards the back of the tabletop, plus speakers below near the front of the desk (apparently the speakers are connected via an “aluminum loaded horn speaker” system), it’s like being pleasantly wrapped in sound. You’re probably thinking, “Why put speakers in a desk?,” but as the pièce de résistance: a CD player is on-board! You can set your CDs right around where the drawer is and have all of your favorite music ready-to-go. However, it wasn’t just tacked on as a tool just for simply listening to music. The cherry on top: six compilation CDs of ambient noise, featuring sounds of the forest, a babbling brook, and dancing wind, were all included! Is this a joke? Is this some kind of joke?! Or is this for real?
This isn’t some standard item; it’s a really strange desk. Apparently, the former General Manager of Honda’s F-1 team gathered his staff and took two years to produce this desk. It’s really a work that can speak to that level of seriousness. Just for that, there’s a special price attached to this desk, but when I actually sat down with this desk in front of me and heard the sound of gentle waves lapping upon the shore, that was it–I was sold. I got the order forms right away. Honestly, I think it was the first time I recognized a use for ambient noise CDs.
… Ahem. Well then, I suppose I should start talking about games sooner or later.
Recently, it’s often been said that, “The well of ideas for games has dried up,” and, “All the basic patterns have been used up.” In reality, that’s not the case. However, if you look from the side of the creators, an overly novel game won’t be understood in its planning, and without any precedent, development becomes even more of a challenge. The possibility of the project coming to a standstill is high. Even from the standpoint of the user, it’s easier to picture something closer to things that are already in gameplay as opposed to something unintelligible. Although, there’s no future in only having the same type of games.
But, back to the example of “my amazing desk.” Even a desk shows us this level of ingenuity! Even a desk with no other features besides having four legs and a working surface upon which you can place items is capable of this. I truly feel like I saw that the spirit of thinking of the user and going that extra mile always results in being able to make something great.
Although I’m certainly no inside agent for the maker of the desk, I really want to see it sell well. If those of us making games also don’t give it our all, we will surely become the butt of some jokes.
Caption: In reality, the chair ended up being more expensive, but it simply can’t compete with the novelty of the desk.
Interviewer: This story of “An Amazing Desk” drummed up a large response in terms of the editing department.
Sakurai: Oh? Which part in particular?
Interviewer: That you would buy such an expensive looking desk!
Sakurai: … .
Interviewer: You seem to be quite interested in that. (Laughs).
Sakurai: Of course, I’m still using it, but I’ve found a bit of a defect.
Interviewer: Oh no.
Sakurai: And that is… it’s cold to the touch in winter.
Interviewer: Clearly, it seems that it would become cold to the touch. (Laughs). Speaking of winter, before, when I suggested a polyurethane desk, it too would become cold and rock-solid. I don’t think you ever took a liking to using it, did you?
Sakurai: Right, that’s from back when I was still living in Yamanashi. In Yamanashi, even when the room temperature would drop to 0℃ (32℉), I would be completely fine. But that desk was too stiff. (Laughs).
Interviewer: This time, you bought a desk that you chose completely on your own, but when you go out to buy something, do you usually look at review columns and then buy?
Sakurai: Indeed. I thought this was a really worthwhile buy. Especially the CD with sounds of the ocean.
Interviewer: You talk up the desk so much, and yet the sounds of the ocean CD is your main selling point? (Laughs).
Sakurai: When you’re working at this desk, the waves sound of the waves just kind of “whoosh,” you know?
Interviewer: Um, no, not really. How do you mean?
Sakurai: It’s a really great feeling! Rather than filling the silence with the clicking of your computer’s mouse, your work progresses off to a far away place.
Interviewer: You don’t really listen to music much, do you?
Sakurai: Oh, I do. When I’m doing simple tasks or drawing, I make a lot of progress by listening to some up-tempo music. However, if there are vocals, music doesn’t really lend itself to tasks like writing. I’m telling you, “whoosh” is the way to go!
Interviewer: (Chuckles)… That’s great.
Sakurai: Also, the sounds of the forest are also really nice. “Pitter-patter, pitter-patter.” You can even hear the sound from a shishi-odoshi from time to time.
Interviewer: I wonder if I’m the only one that thinks you must look like quite the sight while working? (Laughs).
Sakurai: Frankly, I would go to CD shops and find those types of CDs thinking, “What are these for?,” “Are there actually people who listen to this?” However, with this desk, the sounds actually come forth and expand to create a nice environment. You’ll think that you’re really hearing the sounds from all around you. It was completely ground-breaking.
Interviewer: In “Meteos,” there’s a stage with ambient noises, isn’t there? I’m absolutely sure this desk had some influence over that decision.
1. A shishi-odoshi (鹿威し, lit. “deer scare”) is a bamboo tube resting on a pivot that, when filled with water, tips over and strikes a stone before returning to its resting position. These types of devices can commonly be found in Japanese gardens.