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Being an indie in Japan isn't easy, says dev -- but it's getting better

Onion Games' Yoshiro Kimura speaks candidly about how Japan's indie scene has changed, and how his encounters with other indie developers at GDC reignited his passion for making games.
"Before, I was very disappointed in the Japanese [game] industry. But now there’s a lot of hope in Japan."

- Onion Games founder Yoshiro Kimura reflects on the changing nature of Japanese indie game dev in the wake of events like BitSummit.

While Japan has historically been a bastion of video game design talent, indie developers in the region have struggled to flourish like their counterparts in the U.S. and Europe.

In an interview recently published by VG24/7, former Marvelous designer and current indie developer Yoshiro Kimura speaks candidly about how Japan's indie scene has changed in the last few years (thanks in part to the influence of events like BitSummit) and how his encounters with other indie developers at GDC reignited his passion for making games.

"Before I went to GDC, I was like a lost child; I lost hope in the Japanese games industry...I was like -- how do you call this? Depressed, yes," Kimura told VG24/7's Brenna Hillier at Tokyo Game Show last year. "[But then] I was in front of the IGF stage, and Brandon Boyer was speaking...then suddenly a [montage] came up on the screen above, and it was all new. All original. It was like watching a jungle. It was like traveling all over the world. It was like nature: beautiful, because each one is very different."

Kimura returned to Japan after GDC in 2012 and founded his own studio, Onion Games, but says he didn't feel quite the same until the first BitSummit event in 2013.

"After the first BitSummit -- very small, the first one was very small -- I felt that same feeling," Kimura told Hillier. "After BitSummit, we gathered the [Japanese indie] people together, along with the doujin community, and we are like family now. Each of us knows what the other people are making. We help each other."

Kimura went on to bring his own game, Million Onion Hotel, to the second BitSummit, and chatted a bit about the event and his own feelings on how it affects the Japanese indie scene in a follow-up event called ChottoSummit. For more of his thoughts on the topic, check out the full VG24/7 interview.

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