Sakurai’s Surprising Storage Skills [pt. 1]
Note: Do not repost 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 the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai.
This is part two of the interview Sakurai recently conducted with Denfamico Gamer. The interview wasn’t broken up in Japanese, but because the translation took a considerable amount of time (and Switch news!) we broke it up. The first part can be read here.
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Labels for Cables
Sakurai: As you can see, I’ve put my PlayStation VR in a basket, still connected to my PlayStation 4.
—Our editing department struggled with finding a storage solution as well. Eventually, we just gave up and put it back in the box. The whole setup becomes a bit cluttered after repeated use.
Sakurai: A common problem with lots of wires.
—I’ve seen a stand for sale on which you can hang your PlayStation VR, but that won’t prevent it from collecting dust.
Sakurai: Which is why I decided to store it in a drawer at home and take it out when I decide to use it—and the same goes for my controllers. I always use PlayStation controllers in pairs; that way, I have a spare on hand if the battery dies. By the way, I actually bought this basket at Nitori as a space for my cat to relax. I like shopping there (laughs).
—You’re just like us common folk! (laughs) I’ve asked you a lot about what’s inside your closet, but I’d like to learn more about the space around your TV. Is it covered with consoles?
Sakurai: I imagine it is for most people, but mine is limited to only the consoles I’m currently using. Right now, I have four connected to my TV: PlayStation 4 Pro, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Xbox One. All other comparatively lighter appliances are connected and disconnected as necessary—Vita TV, Apple TV, Stream Link, NES Classic Edition, and so on.
—Your all-black appliance collection is quite impressive.
Sakurai: I always go for black when I can. I have a speaker (1) in my cabinet that I don’t use anymore; instead, I have a 5.1ch surround system not shown in the picture here. You can see my PlayStation 4 Pro (2), my PlayStation 3 (3), my hard disk recorder (4), my Xbox One (5), my NES Classic Edition (6), my Wii U (7), my PS Vita and my Apple TV (8). I also have a little cooling fan (9) beneath my PlayStation 4 Pro.
—Like the kind you’d use for a laptop? That must give you peace of mind, seeing as the system is tucked away in your cabinet like that.
Sakurai: Yeah, I like having it just in case. By the way, this is my HDMI selector.
—It’s beautiful… Even the backside of your devices is trim and tidy. Are those labels pasted on regular cable ties?
Sakurai: They are. I could use marker to write in the names myself, but printing them on labels looks a little neater. The labels were the exact same size as the labels on the cable ties, so it was a perfect match. People often tell me they want to tidy up their own setup when I show them this, but it’s ultimately too much work for some (laughs). I’ve even devised a clever little system for assigning ports: (1) is the Xbox One, (2) is for the Wii U, (3) is the PS3, (4) is the PS4, and (5) is for the Vita TV. That way, I never pick the wrong one.
—You even matched the numbers to the name of the hardware!? I can’t believe you came up with that. I’m genuinely impressed.
Sakurai: Pretty clever, don’t you think? Anyhow, here’s the space behind the TV.
—It’s so clean!
Sakurai: Well, I tidied up a bit for this interview (laughs). If you open up those white boxes, you’ll find all the power cables.
Sakurai: These are just regular boxes you can buy anywhere, but having them creates a much different impression. The cords would look even neater if I banded them together with a cable tie, but that makes it a little more cumbersome when plugging and unplugging different devices. That said, if something so simple as using a box or a cable tie makes things look this clean, then it’s worth the effort. The box in the foreground contains a slew of LAN cables I have connected; they’re far less organized (laughs).
—Do you usually maintain this much empty space between the wall and the TV?
Sakurai: Yes. That makes it much easier to clean and take care of. The television is about 65 inches, and most of my devices are contained within the cabinet beneath, so the whole thing is pretty heavy. And even if I were to try moving it, everything inside could rattle around or even break. I was initially worried keeping all the power cables in the same box could lead to overheating, but most sparks are caused by dust anyway, so I suppose this is ultimately safer than letting them collect dust. Also, that white box protruding from the wall is a built-in heater. I don’t use it very much, though.
—It sounds like dust is the big troublemaker. I know you have a cat, so I imagine there’s also a lot of shedded fur you have to clean up. Plus, they sharpen their claws, leaving scratch marks everywhere. They seem like they’d be quite a hassle.
Sakurai: It seems many cats can be, but thankfully, mine is extremely well behaved.
—What a well-behaved cat.
Sakurai: By the way, if you look at these power cables, you’ll notice I’ve tagged them. It’s better to do this before you forget which cable is which.
—I have a lot of unknown cables at my house…
Sakurai: You’re not alone. That said, it becomes much harder to decide what to do with them once you lose track of what they do.
Free from Attachments
—Much like cables, figures tend to collect dust as well. Do you happen to be a collector?
Sakurai: Not really. I’m not much of a hoarder.
—So amiibos are the exception to the rule, then? I seem to remember you keeping yours on display in a glass case.
Sakurai: Of course. At the same time, I primarily use them for work, and I don’t have any that aren’t compatible with Smash.
Sakurai: Well, that’s not entirely true: I did collect figures from the Shooting Game Historica collection, replicas of ships from classic shooting games. Those are pretty incredible. I began collecting them back when I was developing Kid Icarus: Uprising—a shooting game. During that time, I would glance over at these models, reflect on their respective games, and look to those for inspiration. Other than that, the only time I buy figures is when they relate to my work.
—And when would that be?
Sakurai: To give a recent example, the other day I bought a Vifam model based off of the old anime series—and no, that doesn’t mean I’m making a Galactic Drifter Vifam game. The reason I bought it is because I wanted to get a closer look at the rifle that came with the figure and use it as a reference. I used to buy a lot of strategy guides for similar reasons.
—How did those strategy guides serve as reference materials?
Sakurai: Well, they’re essentially big records of the games themselves. Sometimes I use the character artwork as references, and other times I’ll inspect the stage layout or the enemy designs. These sorts of materials especially came in handy when designing The Subspace Emissary in Brawl and Smash Run in Smash for since the enemies play such a big part in both.
—So game development requires you to do more than just play video games. You also have to consider the music, the strategy guides, and all other related materials.
Sakurai: You have no personal recollection of games you’ve never played, so I do my best to avoid that situation by playing as many games as I can, but supplementary materials have proven quite useful over the years.
Sakurai: I took this photo back when I moved to Tokyo from HAL Laboratory’s old studio in Yamanashi.
—I see… Does that mean you threw away all the packages shown here?
Sakurai: It does. This picture shows that I used to preserve all my games in their completest form, but my storage style has grown much more austere. I just laid them out on my floor and took a picture—and this is only a small selection of all my games at the time.
—Before you got rid of the packaging.
Sakurai: Right. Actually, I just noticed there are a lot of foreign titles mixed in: Rad Racer II, Rampage, and Rastan Saga, just to name a few.
—How did you get your hands on overseas titles?
Sakurai: That was before the days of online shopping, so I went out to Akihabara and picked them up there. Most of the games you see here are titles I picked up back when I was a student.
—Did you throw away the instruction manuals, too?
Sakurai: I might have had some of them tucked away at one point, but I’ve long since given up and gotten rid of them. There’s also something else I had no choice but to get rid of.
—And what would that be?
Sakurai: My arcade system board. It just had to go.
—That’s too bad… I’m sure there would have been some eager buyers out there, but you mentioned you never resell the games and systems you buy.
Sakurai: I had a 6-slot Neo Geo MVS (laughs). I ended up giving it to a friend.
—There’s such an interesting dichotomy between the items you’re attached to and the ones you aren’t.
Sakurai: Honestly, I don’t have a strong attachment to the objects themselves.
—You have your underlying idea of using them as reference materials, but you also possess a strong respect for games—which is why you always have them on hand.
Sakurai: I said this before, but I make a point of downloading the games I buy whenever possible. I don’t fixate on having a physical copy. I just feel digital is the best way to go for both games and for books. I’m happy enjoying retro games through platforms like the Virtual Console. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve bought and re-bought some games like that (laughs).
—Given that everything is becoming so storage-based, do you ever exchange or service your hard disks?
Sakurai: Of course, though it’s less a matter of managing everything and more a matter of wanting more memory. My PlayStation 4 in particular runs out of space rather quickly. I have a PlayStation Plus subscription, so I keep all my save data on the cloud storage, but even that gets full.
—Somehow I’m not surprised you reached the 12GB limit.
Sakurai: I have make do with the cloud as it is, but the hard disk is simply too small, so erasing things I’ve installed has almost become a daily routine. After all, I can always download them again. Plus, no matter how hard you try to collect things and how much of an attachment you have, you’re still going to die one day (laughs).
—…That took an unexpected turn (laughs). I have to say, though, your storage skills really took me by surprise. I realize it isn’t every day you open up your closet or show people what’s behind your TV, so I’d like to thank you for your cooperation.
Sakurai: There was a point at which I tidied up in preparation for moving, but I think the real basis for my current storage system is the game database I tried to create for loaning out games to members of my staff. Once you go through the pains of getting yourself started organizing, it becomes a lot easier later on. If you think of it that way, it really isn’t so bad.
Even if we can’t quite emulate Sakurai’s uber-efficient style of gaming, we can all start by labeling our hardware or preventing peripherals from collecting dust. In looking over his storage system, I truly gleaned a sense of both his broad knowledge and his deep respect for the art of video games. In reflecting on his method of playing games every day in search of inspiration for fresh and interesting ideas, it made a lot of sense to me. I also agree with his point that “once you go through the pains of getting yourself started organizing, it becomes a lot easier later on”; that said, for the rest of us, the work itself is much easier said than done.
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