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Posts Tagged ‘Wattam’

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Image: GamesRadar
This video game for children is all about joy, love, peace … and being silly.

I know almost nothing about video games, other than that my grandchildren are fascinated by them. But a recent article in the Los Angeles Times opened my mind to how important they can be.

Todd Martens writes at the Los Angeles Times, ” ‘Meow!’

“Artist and unconventional game developer Keita Takahashi has just overheard a feline through the telephone line. He laughs and begins asking questions about said cat. It’s the moment Takahashi seems most comfortable and chatty during our long-distance interview, a detour from discussing his latest game, which is about explosions, golden poop and, ultimately, how to be better people.

“ ‘Wattam,’ the long-awaited work from the developer behind the endearing cult smash ‘Katamari Damacy,’ itself a jubilant celebration of fun and optimism, is also about seeking out the joy in the everyday, namely the objects that surround us and can sometimes be taken for granted. If it existed in the world of ‘Wattam,’ for example, a random cat’s meow would be cause for celebration, a reminder that beauty and joy is not only everywhere but too often fleeting.

“Yes, that’s heavy stuff for a game in which a walking and talking mouth might devour an anthropomorphic apple and then turn the latter into a human-like piece of feces that wants to spread love, but Takahashi’s metaphorical approach to game-making is one in which play is utilized as an expressionist tool. …

Objects are simply excuses to explore interactions, to show that a toilet, a telephone, an acorn, an octopus toy, an onion, a nose, a castle-sized cake and a bounty of other random things can and should live in harmony.

“ ‘Wattam,’ Takahashi says, was inspired by watching his two younger children play. He wanted to create something that presented a more hopeful view of the world.

“ ‘Kids are so great,’ the Japanese developer says. ‘They can enjoy everything, even small things. They can run around and be happy and then suddenly cry or get angry. But they can get that happy feeling back so quickly. That’s unbelievable. That’s like a different creature.’ …

“In ‘Wattam,’ as in ‘Katamari Damacy,’ there’s an underlying sense of rebuilding the world, of correcting a past generational mistake. … Objects are drawn in the bold, rounded colors of infant toys sprung to life; they slowly and awkwardly wobble, bumping into one another and even crawling and climbing all over one another.

“There are occasional missions — retrieve a receiver to stop a telephone set from crying, or create a body of water to prevent the season of summer from being sad — but mostly ‘Wattam’ is about wonder: What happens if I climb a tree? What happens if I explode? What happens if I get eaten? …

“When he lays it all out, it becomes clear why one of the core abilities of ‘Wattam’ is holding hands. Solutions in the game can come just from creating giant dance circles, of watching the hand of a flower touch that of a crown. But be careful of the latter: ‘[inventory] descriptions tell us that those who wear a crown — those who flaunt their power — are ‘susceptible to losing it.’

“Upon arriving in Vancouver and discovering its diversity, Takahashi marveled that the city functioned without everyone warring with one another.

“ ‘For me, it was very impressive,’ he says of the shift in cultural points of view. ‘There were so many different races of people in Vancouver. They speak different languages, like different Asian or European languages. They speak English. They work together. …

” ‘I just believe that while differences make so many problems, it’s differences that make our cultures more deep, more nice, and make our perspective more wide. I just wanted to make a video game about our differences, but a game that would get over our differences.’ …

“While Takahashi’s ultimate goal for ‘Wattam’ may be to strengthen communication between us, he’ll be content, no doubt, if the game’s audience simply finds a greater appreciation in all that surround us.

“ ‘When I find a very nice very small object — beautiful fruit at the grocery store, or nice plants in the flower shop — I’m just happy,’ he says. ‘I don’t need to go on vacation. … I’m happy to just be in a peaceful environment. I’m happy to walk around the city and take the bus.’ ”

More here.

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