Where is Katamari Damacy Now?


Keita Takahashi has left Namco today. What does this mean? Well, recently he's been quoted for being "disillusioned" with the gaming industry and 3D. (Here and Here and Here)

I was definitely a latecomer to Katmari Damacy. And once I saw it, I was hooked. The depth of the King of Cosmos' character and the relationship between the Prince and the King of Cosmos, and then the relationship between the King of Cosmos and his father all seemed somehow very profound. They were telling legitimate stories through very abstract means. Not only through highly imaginative fairy tale, but also through a videogame.

Boy did I roll those Katamaris around to please my Pop... What I loved the most though, is that I could actually feel for Prince. To some extent, everyone in their life has a figure of authority and the scenes in the game, even if conveyed mainly in text, bring up familiar feelings.

Now, I can speak for what playing Katamari has taught me. It has taught me that there is a time where small things no longer matter and one has to move onto larger things, or else you won't make the Katamari as big as it needs to be in time. Katamari here being life. This, I feel, is a vital life skill, which, other than in this video game, is hard to come by through such fun and practical means. So I won't lie if I say that playing this game has had a therapeutic effect.

I'm not the only person to feel this way. University of Wisconsin professor, James Paul Gee, states in one of his papers, that Katamari may be in fact, one of the most beneficial games to brain development. Keita Takahashi then made Noby Noby Boy. I only got that for iphone, since I don't own a PS3, but again, the game is an abstract concept of symbiotic relationship, helpful in forming the thought process behind relationships.

And then he just took off. I can't wait to see the playground he's working on.

But why would he be so sick of the gaming industry to leave it altogether after he's done such genius games? Maybe it's because focus isn't on how the games can be beneficial, but on realism in graphics, immersiveness in the game and other "important-for-marketing-but-really-just-a-slice-of-the-whole-pie" parts. Maybe it's because Namco keeps releasing new versions of Katamari and the point of the game, present in the very first Katamari Damacy for PS2 has now been distilled to be mild and easily digestible. I don't know.

But I do know for a fact that I'll be showing my kids Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy. I've gained a ton from Katamari Damacy that I want to share with future generations. Hopefully the PS6 of the tomorrow will be backwards compatible, or at least the emulators will run well. I hope Keita the best into his future. I hope he keeps bringing us work in context that provides us with perspective. (Hey Keita, if you read this, let's make a children's book together. :D)