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Gung Ho: A Japanese Way of Life

20 November 2015


Commonly used to mean "enthusiastic", Gung Ho's Chinese roots actually means "to work together". School of Digital Media & Infocomm Technology student, Malcom Teh, learned about this, and more, during his recent trip to Tokyo, Japan. Below is a reflection written by Malcom, a year 2 student, from the Game Development Option of the Diploma in Information Technology (DIT).
Goodbye Singapore, Hello Japan!
On the late night of 6th September 2015, we departed for the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, with the mission of broadening our horizons. We would be going through a 2 week session of gruelling lessons and workshops, in an attempt to learn more about the Japanese game development industry.
 
Seeking advice from Japanese industry experts at DHU
Many of us didn't know what to expect going to Japan. We were presented a lesson schedule, but I didn't realise the enormous scope of what we would learn during the 14 days. At Digital Hollywood University (DHU), located in Ochanomizu, Tokyo, we covered a wide range of topics, from Hit Game Design, Character Design, Mobile Game Design, Game Economy, Vocaloid Development (Hatsune Miku), to Virtual Reality experience. We were taught by industry professionals and DHU lecturers, and shown real world examples. We also had to practise and showcase what we had learnt, through presentations and exercises.
 
My personal favourite were the sessions on Hit Game Design. It was interesting to see what professionals considered a hit game, and learn the necessary steps to produce a hit game. At the end, we were tasked to produce a proposal for a potential hit game and present it to our Japanese lecturer (or Sensei) and our class. It was here that I realised how difficult it was to design a hit game. As our Sensei taught us, it was easy to come up with a game which was entertaining for ourselves, but creating a game which would reach a wider audience was a different story altogether. Nevertheless, we took up the challenge, and worked to come up with what we thought would be hit games. In the end, most of our proposals received low hit game potential scores by our Sensei, but it just proved to show how much more we had to learn as game developers.
Visit to GungHo Online Entertainment
That's not to say we spent our entire trip cooped up in classes. We got up close and personal with the industry through visits to studios such as Gung Ho Online Entertainment (developer of mobile game, Puzzle & Dragons), a highly successful game developer in Japan. This was a golden opportunity for us, as it was our first time talking face to face with a professional from the Japanese game industry. We bombarded him with loads of questions, and left the studio with a wealth of knowledge about how the game industry worked.
 
Robot Soldier, Guardian of Ghibli Museum, watching over us
All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. Utilizing our time after school and our one free day, we spent our time exploring Tokyo. We visited districts such as Asakusa, Harajuku, Nakano, Ikebukuru, Akihihabara and Shinjuku. There were also guided tours to places outside of Metropolitan Tokyo, such as Mount Fuji and Ghibli Musuem (known for its animation feature films). We enjoyed the experiences with the vibrant sights and sounds of Tokyo, and of course, the tasty culinary treats of Japan.
 
Finally, the Tokyo Game Show!
The highlight of our trip was the much anticipated Tokyo Game Show 2015 held at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba. It was my first time visiting a game show exhibition, and to say it was extraordinary is an understatement. There were booths from Sony, Konami, EA and many more. What intrigued me the most was how active these companies were advertising their games, and the sights and sounds of the array of all the booths.
 
My personal favourite were the sessions on Hit Game Design. It was interesting to see what professionals considered a hit game, and learn the necessary steps to produce a hit game. At the end, we were tasked to produce a proposal for a potential hit game and present it to our Japanese lecturer (or Sensei) and our class. It was here that I realised how difficult it was to design a hit game. As our Sensei taught us, it was easy to come up with a game which was entertaining for ourselves, but creating a game which would reach a wider audience was a different story altogether. Nevertheless, we took up the challenge, and worked to come up with what we thought would be hit games. In the end, most of our proposals received low hit game potential scores by our Sensei, but it just proved to show how much more we had to learn as game developers.
Mr Ikhwan (centre) is also an SP-DMIT alumnus!
Though there were many grand booths by all the major companies, what captured my heart the most, was the one run by Mr Ikhwan bin Zainal, one of our adjunct lecturers from Singapore Polytechnic. Even though Springloaded's booth was relatively smaller, it fascinated me that our very own teacher was able to showcase his game at Tokyo Game Show. This inspires me to create my own game, so that I, too, could take the stage one day, like how Mr Ikhwan did. No matter how small we seem, we are always capable of producing amazing results.
 
The sun has set for our trip, but our hearts are lit for the future!
Overall, this was a once in a lifetime experience, which I will forever remember. I left Japan with a wealth of new found knowledge, and a desire to learn more. I plan to revisit Japan with bated breathe, and look forward to see what it can dream up for game development and technology in the future. For now, I would like to thank the School of Digital Media & Infocomm Technology at Singapore Polytechnic, and our dear lecturer in charge, Mr Alvin Tang (also known as our Spinjitsu-Master).
 
About the Overseas Immersion Programme to Digital Hollywood University
This Overseas Immersion Programme (OIP) is a result of the Memorandum of Cooperation signed between Singapore Polytechnic and Digital Hollywood University (http://www.dhw.ac.jp/en/), a prestigious university that offers anime, game, and computer graphics degree programmes, located in the heart of Tokyo, near the Akihabara district. The OIP this year included a visit to the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) 2015, an annual global trade show for video games, with over 220,000 visitors this year.

Ikhwan bin Zainal, DIT alumnus and current DMIT Adjunct Lecturer, was representing Springloaded, a Singapore game company showcasing their latest mobile game, The Last Vikings, available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

 

No trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit to the Meiji Shrine!

 

The Nippon Budokan was just a short walk from where we stayed.
Enjoying a beautiful day out at Lake Ashi, near Mount Fuji.
 

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