Friday, October 30, 2009

Without further ado: Haruhiko Shono

How hard it is to manage a website - a network of internet contents - on one's own. CoreGamers begun as a project where different sorts of articles could be inserted, from modern to retro gaming, from purely nonsensical delirium to the rigor of profile and interview articles. Of all the plans and expectations I deposited in that site, together with the absent co-founder, I have only been able to carry out the one which I think to be most important; the one where I am able to contribute with a small amount of information about creators who, in spite of their importance to the field of videogames, are not usually taken into consideration by mainstream media.

Some months ago, I advertised the rare chance I was given to interview Haruhiko Shono. As mentioned in the Profile and Interview article I publish today, his name might not be of importance to the witless videogame players of the current generation. I'm sure that even older generation players will have a certain difficulty in associating his name with an actual game title. But one single word, as if by magic, might help telling apart those who truly admire the art that exists in videogames and those who claim to the industry from inside out: and that word is GADGET.

Other relics from times past make their appearance in the article; the ethereal ALICE, one of the first interactive works to appeal to the love for Arts; and L-ZONE, in which the author expresses his matured admiration for video art, machinery and the coming of the digital age. Exceptionally, I've also prepared a long gallery of media to support the article: apart from the unreleased projects, published in the parent visual blog Pixels At An Exhibition, and the several materials I've been publishing for the last months, there will be high quality videos documenting his major creations. Given the fact that the Internet has been rather useless in the research for information concerning this admirable videogame designer, I felt the necessity to bridge the gaps and provide a substantial - while not definite - account of his career and the creations that define it.

This was by far the hardest research project I've dealt with in the last months, although it is extremely rewarding to receive such a positive reaction to the article from Shono himself. And it is at times like these that I understand more clearly that all this work is not in vain: it is an opportunity to learn and to pass that knowledge to others. Lastly, I would like to renew my acknowledgement to Sorrel Tilley whose help in the translation department has proved essential to the fulfilment of this personal goal - and to the many others, friends and strangers who have supported me in the completion of this piece.


Carlos de Figueiredo said...

This in-depth article and interview are history in the making, bringing a great artist's work back to the well earned spotlight. All this was only possible due to the stoic and outstanding work of Dieubussy.
Personally, I felt a sad undertone to this interview, mainly because of all the creative opportunities lost by a videogame establishment that keeps ostracizing brilliant men like Shono. We can only hope that better days will come...

Jason said...

Thanks for one of the best profile articles I've read in recent years. I knew little about Shono from his work in Gadget but I had no idea the game was so important. Those gameplay videos did it for me - it's unusual to see such image quality in gameplay videos anyway, how did you get that?

Also... where can I get that Alice game? :)

Dieubussy said...

Thanks for your kind words.

@ Jason

I was able to record those videos using a screen capturing software. They were exported in MP4 format and I use Vimeo because of its decent compression onto web format - unlike most video uploading sites I've used. They run exactly in the same size and resolution as the games (640x480px).

As for Alice, I hear it's being sold at Amazon at the moment. The packaging is quite exquisite, I'm told, and it resembles the boxing of old LP records. The only problem is that you can't seem to get it for under 1700$. Unless that's not a problem for you?

Camz0r said...

I'm speechless - I can't believe someone thought about making an article about Shono. Here is a man whose work alone has shaped a new chapter in this industry. I got to playing Gadget when I was 14 and I remember having nightmares about the Sensorama machine, feeling it go inside my mind and changing everything around me.

Wasn't Gadget based on a sci-fi novel? Because it seems to good not to be.

Can't thank you enough for the article. The internet is now a richer information resource because of your work.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your interview, and this blog after doing my "every-so-often" Google search of Shono's name to see what he was up to. Your interview was amazing and it did my heart good to find another fan of Shono's work. I loved L-Zone and Gadget,( could never find a copy of Alice) and was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of the Past as Future re-release straight from Synergy in Japan. A woman that worked there was kind enough to translate the installation instructions to English for me... I loved that game! (still have it sitting on my shelf). I also got a copy of the books, which I still have in pristine condition today. I might have missed it, but did you mention the novel "The Third Force: A Novel of Gadget" written by Marc Laidlaw in '96? ( Marc was a game designer at Valve, and obviously a fan of Shono). Great novel, worth tracking down. I was most curious to hear what he had to say about the UNDERWORLD project. I was closely following its development.. then "poof" its gone and all traces of the project disappear. I still have several "trailers" done for the game and they hint at an amazing story and classic Shono cinematography. I did not see any mention of it in your interview with him, but I did see the blurb off to the side you wrote about it. Did he give you any other information about Underworld? Anyway.. great job on the article, the interview and the presentation. No doubt you put a ton of effort and time into it... and this "old gamer" for one really appreciated it.

Dieubussy said...

Thanks for your kind comments Slakemoth. I do know about The Third Force: it wasn't mentioned, however, because it wasn't created by Shono and the article had a great deal of contents to deal with as it was. But I planned on talking about it sometime in the future, perhaps here in this very blog. Indeed I had used a reference to it in the past when I signaled some influences Gadget had in Half-Life 2.

I got a lot of materials concerning Underworld from Haruhiko Shono. Unfortunately I was not allowed to publish them. Still I'd be interested in seeing those trailers you speak of since they might be different from the materials I gathered. Please contact me via e-mail to

Again, thank you for taking the time to read.