Yakuza Creator On Grand Theft Auto

Illustration for article titled Yakuza Creator On Grand Theft Auto

SEGA's PlayStation franchise Yakuza (Ryu Ga Gotoku) has often been called "The Grand Theft Auto of Japan". Like GTA, players are in large urban environments in an underworld setting. That doesn't mean designer Toshihiro Nagoshi is a fan, though.


In a recent forum, the game designer referred to GTA as a game in which you can "kill people or do whatever". It's not that Nagoshi used this forum to trash talk GTA — far from it. Instead, he touched on the larger issues at hand, such as what does it mean to make a game that can let players do whatever they want. Is this dangerous?

"This game," the SEGA R&D head said about GTA, "I thought one day someone is going to have to make something like this. Personally, because I think you must think about the influence games have on people, I would never think about wanting to make a game like this. However, because of this moral issues in this game, I think we should have a healthy debate.

In gaming, if you make a decision, there is a reaction, and it's the most stimulating form of media, I think. And thus, it can asked if it's the most dangerous media... Depending on what you make, perhaps."

Besides developing Yakuza, Nagoshi works on Super Monkey Ball games and his tan.

セガ名越氏が語る『龍が如く』とゲーム倫理の問題 [Famitsu via jin] [Pic]



I'm not sure which is worse, the communists at Rockstar whose game has as one of its components the most blatant, and blatantly unreasoned, left-wing, anti-American and anti-capitalist stories of any game I've ever played, or Nagoshi's lack of insight into what would make playing a game immoral where one can do anything.

The answer is context and motivation. Honestly think about why you get enjoyment out of blowing things up or killing civilians in GTA. I can speak for no one else, but upon examination of myself, I find that I gain enjoyment largely from approaching the game in either of two major conceptual frameworks, or both: 1. The absurdity of the situation (speeding down the sidewalk and mowing down civilians with an eighteen-wheeler), or 2. The adroitness of skill I possess and display when I fight my way out of varying situations, gleaning headshots, and expertly executing a getaway drive and skillfully diving out of a car to escape death at just right the moment. There is also something to be said for the simple power of blowing something up with an RPG or a grenade, which gives that vague feeling of having the power to fend off any existential threat or fight for any cause, but this feeling is less developed, so I'll leave it there for now.

I will say, on the positive side to which I've already made reference, that GTA IV's gameplay was good, but not great aside from the environmental aspect (big city, lots of people, et cetera). For instance, the actual gunplay, though much improved from previous GTAs, would hardly be enough to carry any game to success were it not couched in an amazing playground ripped from the image of reality. #toshihironagoshi