In the first of a series of occasional columns about CEDEC, Japan’s answer to GDC, advisory board chair and chief technologist at Square Enix’s R&D division Naoto Yoshioka shares the origins of the event…
In Japan, we have a games industry body called Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association, or CESA. Most of the Japanese game developers, publishers and platform holders participate in the group, and we seek to help push the games industry forward by holding events like the Tokyo Game Show and discussing issues such as game ratings.
Within CESA, there’s also a group called the Technology Committee, whose primary role is to organise the CESA Developers Conference, or CEDEC. This year’s CEDEC will be the 11th time the event has been held.
The original idea for CEDEC came about from a Mr. Kawanishi, who saw how professional game developers came together to hone their craft at the Game Developers Conference. At that time, he was working as a DirectX evangelist for Microsoft Japan. Through his work, he saw that Japanese developers were doing excellent work individually, but that there were very few chances for them to come together and share information. Japanese developers possessed wonderful skills, he felt, but there were no chances to share those with other studios within the country, let alone internationally. From a global standpoint, it was a wasteful situation. And so he gathered together people well versed in cutting-edge techniques, and those who held an interest in the expansion of the industry, and formed the advisory board.
As a result of this, many of those board members have become people in their organisations who are responsible for skill development. Naturally, these are people who put in a huge amount of effort alongside their normal work, without any financial reward. Yet each year they have the huge task of deciding each year’s theme, inviting those games industry luminaries familiar with that theme to speak, and helping to make CEDEC achieve its full potential. Their motivation is to encourage and support the Japanese games industry from a technical standpoint. In the end, it’s simply that they want to deliver enjoyable games to the people of the world.
At last year’s CEDEC, almost 2,000 game developers attended. Our aim was to make the event more international, and to that end we had speakers such as Epic’s Tim Sweeney and Bungie’s Steve Theodore. In addition, we also had Shigeru Miyamoto and Capcom’s Kenji Inafune presenting keynotes, and both delivered passionate speeches to the assembled game professionals.
This year, we’re putting some major changes in place for CEDEC, and planning to elevate the social position of the games industry. CEDEC 2009 takes place from September 1st to 3rd in Yokohama, which is just next to Tokyo. It’s held a little bit before Tokyo Game Show, so if you’re planning on coming to Japan for TGS we’d love it if you extended your stay a little and came along to CEDEC too. We’re positive that seeing Japanese developers exchange ideas will prove to be an exciting experience.