16th Entertainment Division Critiques

How to View the Present, How to Approach Art

The notion that the chaotic state of the world, and a mood of anxiety in regard to an uncertain future, would be unduly reflected in this year's works proved to be utterly groundless. Young artists of today are full of vigor. What awed me about this year's submissions was the strength of the artists' creative spirit -- the determination to express themselves regardless of their circumstances -- and their acute ability to make sense of the "present" and boldly transform it into a work of art.
Though the media arts tend to reflect the present without looking back at the past, we should bear in mind that general access to music as an art form began with the phonograph invented by Edison, which led to delivery media such as the record and CD. Similarly, computers and digital technology only now seem to be reaching their peak as entertainment media. It is as a natural part of this evolution that many of the creators who submitted their work this year are now in a position to create the future. Inevitably, then, they will be asked how they view the present and what attitude they bring to their art.

I am reminded of the fact that the total data capacity for the early video game image and operation programs I was involved in making was a mere 5KB. This forced me to consider how I could incorporate the elements of play in the best and simplest way under extremely restricted conditions. As the maximum data capacity of the Blu-ray discs used for video games today is 25GB (5 million times more than 5KB), I cannot help but feel that users are being inundated with a flood of data. It is incumbent upon creators not to contribute to the atrophy of the inherent human ability to fill out images from limited information. Media-based entertainment has until now been a field that both creators and users could approach with a fairly relaxed attitude. But with the current availability of sophisticated media of expression employing image processing, sensor technology, and the like, creators will increasingly face expectations for "creation" in the truest sense of work that goes beyond mere entertainment to become something "significant."

Game Creator and Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University
Born in 1955 in Tokyo, IWATANI joined Namco Ltd. (now Namco Bandai Games) in 1977. In 1980 he created the video game Pac-Man. Based on the theme of eat ing, the game received high praise worldwide; in 2005 it was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's most successful arcade machine. He has produced over 50 games, including Pac-Land, Ridge Racer, Alpine Racer, and Time Crisis. He became a professor in the Faculty of Arts Department of Game at Tokyo Polytechnic University in 2007. He is also director of the Digital Games Research Association Japan, a fellow of Namco Bandai Games, and the author of Pac-Man no Game-gaku Nyumon (An Introduction to Pac-Man Gaming; Enterbrain, 2005).