I think from now on, things with “3D” in their name are going to change. We’re going to have to reform the word and our concept of what 3D is. That goes for both creators and players.
I think so, too.
For example, Iwata-san showed me Nintendo 3DS before, and I exclaimed over it, but when it came to really getting a sense of it, today was more interesting. Perhaps that’s because even though it’s the same 3D, the context, as it were, is different.
You can appreciate it more fully when you know the background.
Right. If the English words “thank you” are completely a foreign language to someone, they’re nothing but strange sounds. But when you know what they mean in your own language, they’re much more interesting. Rather than expanding your knowledge, actually experiencing 3D makes the concept much more real.
I see what you’re saying.
To take a completely different example, all the employees at my company recently practiced dance turns.
We all went to a studio and practiced turns with Papaya Suzuki (a celebrity known for his dancing – and afro hairstyle) for hours. That was fun. We couldn’t dance, so the English word “turn” was just a word in a foreign language.
Oh, I see! (laughs)
We hadn’t learned that word with our bodies, so at first we couldn’t do turns very well. It just didn’t feel right.
You don’t usually do “turns” in your everyday life and you hadn’t poured much time and effort into them.
Right. But Papaya-san started with the basics, and as we got better, that alone was fun. Human beings simply enjoy moving, apart from the joy of any acquired skill.
I read what you wrote about that. As I read it, I thought it must feel great to be able to smartly spin around like that.
Right? When you do it, it really does feel good. I think everyone should practice turns!
I’m still working this out, but as I was practicing turns, I thought, “Oh, this is language, too.” I talked about it with Papaya-san, and it was interesting to hear him say that he can’t write. Which is like how I can’t dance. We teach each other the rudiments of our respective talents, saying, “It’ll turn out nicely if you do it like this.”
Oh, I see.
When I actually explained writing to him, like a sort of game, saying, “If you think about it in this order, with this following this, the writing will turn out like this,” I thought that dancing must be the same way.
When you pull something you know out of the drawer and use it, it’s commonplace and uninteresting, so you change the colour or give it a twist. To someone who doesn’t know about that, it’s like a different language, and I think the 3D presented by Nintendo 3DS has that quality.
Yes. That’s why the challenge we’re facing now is how to present this new enjoyment, how to convey it properly.
Yes, that’s it.
People exist in a real 3D world, so they see real 3D every day. But for some reason, it’s pleasing when real 3D shows up on a screen. When you use a 3D camera, there’s something in real 3D with an odd depth to it in the liquid crystal viewfinder. And the real thing is on the other side. Nonetheless, that stereoscopic effect on the screen is strangely pleasing. I wonder why that is.
I’ve been thinking that if we could put that into words, we would be able to explain the Nintendo 3DS system’s appeal.
Ambiguous boundaries are the key. You can say that about anything, like virtual worlds, that draw upon the power of our imagination. Put in an unusual way, I think that ambiguous world is like the Otherworld. We live in this world that we think is the real one, so if something from over there enters here, this world becomes unstable. That is at times frightening, at times thrilling.
Ah, the boundaries break down. We can relax only when there are proper boundary lines.
Right, right. People long ago always existed in an unstable world. In other words, to people in the time of the Tale of Genji, there really were ghosts. (Editor’s note: the Tale of Genji is a classic work of Japanese literature from the 11th century.)
But maybe that’s not something to talk about here.
No, it’s interesting. (laughs)
Takaaki Yoshimoto24 says that, a long time ago, things were comprehended far less clearly, and that many things were not clearly delineated. With regard to questions like whether gods or ghosts existed, we can never relate to people in the past as long as we try to apply modern thinking. Rather, they must have existed in a more ambiguous frame of mind, he said. For example, if you’re walking down the street at night and you feel like you hear someone following you, someone today would just think it was his or her imagination, but people in the Heian Period couldn’t be sure of that. (Editor’s note: the Heian Period is a period in Japanese history from the year 794 to 1185.) 24Takaaki Yoshimoto: A poet, thinker and literary critic .
I see. It was unclear.
If you thought you saw something, you might think it was a ghost, and of course you might just think it was your imagination. Long ago, there was more of a gradation to such things. I think there was more traffic between the Otherworld and this world then. As a remnant of the mindset of those times, that feeling of ambiguity essentially remains, and regardless of the time, people applaud people and things that appear which show us the ambiguity of boundaries. Like art before perspective had been mastered or ghosts appearing in stories as if it were nothing special.
When someone like Shigeru Mizuki represents that murky worldview in the face of scientific knowledge, everyone is keenly interested. I think the mysterious 3D that Nintendo 3DS allows us to experience teaches us, or rather reminds us, of the ambiguity of boundaries, of how interesting it is when there is interaction between worlds. (Editor’s note: Shigeru Mizuki is a Japanese author mostly famous for horror manga.)
That isn’t anything particularly special. The double structure of Avatar is the same, and The Sixth Sense and Poppoya are like that. That’s one pivotal element of entertainment, and these few years, the number of works featuring it has increased, and it’s a genre whose adherents are slowly increasing in number. To pull in yet another area of thought, I think one of the reasons that such works are increasing each year is that academic fields in modern science that deal with epistemology are still young and not yet fully established. Everyone has an almost physical reluctance to plunge down that path. It’s interesting to think that people are trying so hard to recapture that fading ambiguity. (Editor’s note: Poppoya is a famous novel and a movie in Japan. Like in the U.S. movies Avatar and The Sixth Sense, the protagonist has unusual experiences of the boundaries between the real world and another world becoming obscure.)
That fogginess that was a matter of course in the past exists at the boundary between the real world and the one within the screen.
Yes. You can sense that, which is peculiarly pleasing. For example, the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction and fantasy and documentary were once all vague.
Hmm, that may be exactly what we are trying to give people now. I showed you this briefly before, but the AR Games25 software in the Nintendo 3DS system itself is interesting for the way it mixes reality and virtual space. 25AR Games: This software in the Nintendo 3DS system reads augmented reality cards (AR Cards) to allow players to enjoy games that extend virtual elements into real space.
Yes, that’s exactly right. This really is amazing! (laughs)
StreetPass also brings that joy of boundaries blurring.
Yes, that’s right.
If you don’t do anything, the game is complete in itself, but if you pass in the real world, the result shows up in the game, which is mysterious and interesting. It’s also interesting how even though the network is so widespread, if the users don’t actually pass each other, nothing will happen. We may be going against current trends, but similar to what Itoi-san said, it would be nice if the commonplace experience of communication through people actually meeting spread through entertainment.
This possesses a particular thrill in that you encounter someone you wouldn’t have if you hadn’t gone to a particular place, unlike the Internet, which makes connecting with people somewhere around the globe easy.
Right. Children might tell their father who’s going on a business trip to Tokyo to take their Nintendo 3DS with him.
He’d come back saying, “I passed by the people of Tokyo.” (laughs)
He’d say, “Man, Tokyo really is something!” (laughs)
That kind of real experience is really great. And, um, unrelated to video games, you can sense that back-and-forth on Twitter.
For example, when I went to Boston not too long ago, some university students there Tweeted that they wanted to meet me. I said it was okay and met them.
Oh, a once-only encounter arose on the spot.
Right, right. No network before provided that. Afterward, I communicated with a lot of other people and now it looks like I’ll be going to Bhutan this year. That too began as a simple exchange on Twitter. That kind of communication and StreetPass are a little similar. (to be continued)
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