Gundam Creator Says Games Are Evil

By Ishaan . September 6, 2009 . 9:50am

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Here we go again. Games are evil, tools of the devil, blah blah blah. They make you unproductive and they’re killing the planet and melting the polar ice-caps. A little kitten dies everytime you blast a zombie in Resident Evil. You know the routine.

 

But wait! What’s this? A…twist? Holy Gunnery United Nuclear Duetrion Advanced Maneuver System, Batman! The GUNDAM creator doesn’t like videogames! OK, maybe it’s not quite as drastic.

 

Then again, you wouldn’t blame anyone for feeling that way after GUNDAM creator Yoshiyuki Tomino profoundly proclaimed “Games are evil,” followed by this little speech at Japan’s CEDEC game conference:

 

“[Gaming] is not a type of activity that provides any support to our daily lives, and all these consoles are just consuming electricity! Let’s say we have about three billion people on this planet wasting their time, bringing no productivity at all. Add 10 billion more people, and what would happen to our planet? Video games are assisting the death of our planet!”

 

Dramatics aside, Tomino-san went on to make a controversial (or perfectly legitimate, depending on how you look at it) point that game developers today need to think about how to design games that don’t make consumers feel they are simply a pastime, but rather tools for productivity that don’t negatively impact our daily lives.

 

Perhaps Tomino-san was referring to games like Wii Fit or the recently released You’ll Incur Losses if You Stay Ignorant: How Money and Things Work DS. Nevertheless, it seems he forgot somewhere along the way that, despite whatever else they might be, games are first and foremost a medium of entertainment. Sure, you can use them to educate and you can use them to spread a good message…but even an educational game is still a vessel for making learning fun and entertaining. And it goes without saying that games only negatively impact our daily lives if we allow them to.

 

Still, hopefully the point he was trying to make wasn’t lost amidst the dramaticism. Developers do need to think about how to make games more than a simple hobby, and anything that can help facilitate the spread of education is a good thing.

 

It’s just ironic that the creator of what is practically the symbol for otakuism said “Games are evil.” Heh.


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  • Zachalmighty

    Just another contradiction to add to the pile.

  • Pichi

    You can say that to just about anything out there that isn’t “productive.” What makes one person see junk, another sees treasure. I’ll never understand why many feel that way, like everything a medium makes must help you do this and this.

    If doing something in a game brings a smile to my face or just find a random tidbit of info that I didn’t know about, then that’s treasure for me. Goes for other things like movies or books some might find “pointless.”

  • CrisSpiegel

    What makes he think that everything in his franchises are less evil than games? Ok, I like original Gundam, but I don’t think it’s any pivotal point on human or society enhancement. Nor any other stuff he created. This guy gave a lecture in my city years ago and he stated to work based on numbers and not artistic goals and so other cartoon makers should. So the more people consuming electricity watching his animes, instead of working, the better for him.

    And what does he do with the money he earns from Gundam games? I hope he is using to fix the damages they cause to the world.

    Anyway, it’s all just stupid. Games, consoles and energy cost money and if you don’t work, just play, you can’t afford them. Even if it’s just fun, fun has a place in our lives keeping us sane, making some of us more creative, giving us subject to talk about and, as a side-effect, this activities improve how our brain processes information. This is productive enough to me. If he want to use arguments, common sense alone won’t cut it. He could argue against excess though, not the subject of the excess. Maybe he did it in the rest of the speech, but that I don’t know.

  • mikanko

    We’re not exactly talking about someone who propagates how wonderful otaku’ism is. During Victory Gundam it’s been mentioned he had a pretty bad bought with depression, and the show kinda goes on a downward spiral with little in the way of happy endings. He finishes Gundam off with Turn A Gundam where War is bad, and the ending is happy but pretty much leaves no room for big robots to run amok in the world again. The guy is/was kinda a manic depressive in relation to the shows he directed went. While he has a valid opinion, and I’m sure is a smart and nice guy, I wouldn’t exactly call him the poster child for a “Big Robots are awesome!” philosophy.

  • http://myanimelist.net/profile/Kuronoa Kuronoa

    lol at the cat.

    It’s funny though, his series is among the ones with the most based games.

    • Aoshi00

      Lovely, the next best thing is girls who cosplay as Gundam :) And you get something like Trigger Heart Exelica.

  • QBasic

    Contradiction or not, a guy is allowed to have opinions. And considering his accomplishments, you assholes are in no position to comfortably sit on your computer chairs and criticize the guy.

    Shut the hell up, says I.

    As for me, I can criticize anyone all I want. Cause I’m not sitting behind a computer in a comfy chair; Ishaan knows all about my chair situation……. >_<

  • Kris

    Games aren’t doing anything to support our daily lives? Screw this hobby, I’m going back to building plastic robot models!

  • Aoshi00

    Like Qbasic said, if anyone is entitled to his/her opinion, the dude for bringing us Gundam is certainly more than qualified to do so. And in a way he does have a point, like w/ any hobby or anything, the key is “w/ restraint”, don’t let it consume your life when you have kids to feed or something. I wouldn’t like my kid playing games all day and failing school either.

    This is nothing new, Miyazaki always complains about how unproductive watching anime is. It’s contradictory since the guy makes animation for a living, I guess adding environmental theme in every single one makes the contents worthwhile, also his movies don’t count because they only take away 2 hrs of our lives at most, lol…

    He’s getting blasted for making a comment because he’s famous. Regardless, I still love Tomino for Zeta Gundam, to me one of the best anime series.

    But I do agree, games just like other forms of media (movies, books, etc) are a form of entertainment. All work and no play would make us a lot less sane. Alas, Tomino or Miyazaki are not young anymore, we all hit a certain turning point and think about life you know.. like is there all there is to it?

    • QBasic

      Aw. I kinda wish you agreed with me on my second point… ;_;

    • Pichi

      That’s the problem I have with some people who blasts stuff. They never seem to say “with restraint” or “with moderation,” they just imply its all bad, no grey area, just black and white.

      Overall, it just bugs me when those people have occupations that don’t seem “productive” yet hammer the other “unproductive” entertainment.

  • Aoshi00

    >>You’ll Incur Losses if You Stay Ignorant: How Money and Things Work DS

    I actually tried the demo and it was rather informative (not that I’m familiar w/ the Japanese tax system anyway..). I wonder if we would be get something like this in the US, beats Kabu Trader Shun :) W/ Miyamoto’s Wii fit and such, I guess the trend is they feel the need to make something “more” to enrich people’s lives. But we can’t all be doing yoga in front of the TV all day can we.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it got an English release as “Financial Training” or something.

  • Icon

    The guy is a complete hyprocrite. Now that we know he feels gamers are wasting their time, I wonder how he feels about the people who keep watching Gundam as they grow up? The people who dress up as these cartoon characters and now have Gundam-themed weddings?

    If only the people of Japan would build a lifesize Metal Gear to shoot down that Gundam robot! How’s that for being productive?

    • QBasic

      And, now, who are you exactly? And what sort of position of power and respect do you hold to have the right to call anyone a hypocrite? Especially a man who’s accomplished more in his life than five generations of your family culminated.

      If you wanna talk about being productive, go and grow a potato field. You aren’t needed here. >:<

      • bonafide

        Since when do you need some sort of ‘position of power and respect’ to have the right to call someone a hypocrite? The guy could be a God for all I care, point is, it’s still hypocritical. It’s not like we see him complaining about people buying his Gundam games.

        • QBasic

          You sure do when you feel the “entitlement disease.”

          “This guy hates games!? Well now, we can’t have THAT kind of thinking around we, say! Especially when his stuff got turneded into games!”

          Here’s a little 101. Just because the guy created and owns the Gundam name doesn’t mean he calls all the shots; there’s a whole board of CEOs that do that sort of thing, and they decide if they want games out of his work, or not. If what he says goes against the goodwill of the company and franchise, such as turning down a shining videogame deal or doesn’t like the Zaku coffee mug, then he’s as good as ousted, original creator or not. That’s how big businesses work. When something blows up, it becomes too big for one man to control. Especially at his age,

          Do your godamn homework before you start calling people hypocrites, for something they’re not even really responsible for.

          • cowcow

            Agreed. Like for example; in the U.S. its not like Stan Lee calls all the shots at Marvel (he doesn’t call any shots) and had any say in Disney buying them out, even though he created most of the well known characters and stories

          • Icon

            When you are involved with largely disposable entertainment like comic books and anime, it’s ironic to call something similar like videogames as a “time waster.”

          • QBasic

            And this it the part when you fail to understand people’s hobby preferences, and lower yourself to a godamn douchebag.

            You dumbass little mind may not comprehend this, but there ARE people in our cosmos that vastly prefer comics to videogames! Gosh! Wild concept, I know!

          • Icon

            QBasic, I really think you’ve fundamentally misunderstood just about every word I’ve typed. I won’t try again. So, I’m sorry my if I’ve offended you. If I could hand you a tissue and offer you a hug, I most certainly would.

          • Pichi

            @ QBasic

            That doesn’t change that fact that anime, comics, games, reading, TV, etc are STILL time wasters in the grand scheme of things! That’s exactly what I’m talking about in a previous comment:

            “Overall, it just bugs me when those people have occupations that don’t seem “productive” yet hammer the other “unproductive” entertainment.”

            Yes he created Gundam, but its still view to many as a “time waster.” Especially if the typical person doesn’t know anime and thinks its all “cartoons.”

          • Icon

            Exactly!

          • QBasic

            I most certainly am offended. By the fact that I wasted my time trying to logically explain to you exactly why he ISN’T a hypocrite, or anyone else who shares his view in the same position as him.

            I don’t want a tissue. But a “I’m apologize for saying something so dumbfounded.” will be just dandy enough.

          • QBasic

            Ugh. This laptop is driving me crazy… I meant “I apologize…” =_= I type too fast for my own good….

      • Icon

        What are you, his lawyer? I’m a gamer calling Yoshiyuki Tomino a senile hypocrite who has made a whole lot of money licensing Gundam out for two decades to game companies. All of a sudden they’re evil? Sure. Sure they are.

        • QBasic
          • Icon

            I understand that the plastic toys and the cartoons mean a lot to you. Evidently, they are a whole lot more worthy of one’s time than a videogame. That’s fine.

            But when Tomino is talking about a medium contributing to the death of the planet, it just comes off as a condescending and hypocritical statement and QBasic, no, I do not need to be anything other than a Siliconera reader to say that. So, get a grip.

            Aoshi, I have a hard time believing these creators are “forced” to partake in creative decisions. If later on, they regret a move they made, well then hindsight is 20/20. Don’t imply that Japanese artists have no say in what they create. I understand the culture is quite different, but there is still a difference between saying yes and no. It’s a bit similar to having Al Gore pontificate on global warming, and yet he will fly on his own private jet. You can’t have it both ways. Maybe I would accept Tomino’s words a lot more if he expressed regret for all of the Gundam games that have been made since the 1980s.

            If Miyazaki says watching anime is unproductive, I have no problem because I believe his work transcends the medium. If it didn’t, he would not be as internationally renowned. Do you understand that this is like the head of the NFL telling America that the MLB is a waste of people’s time? It’s foolish.

            I just wonder why it’s taken Mr. Tomino over 20 years to comment on the popularity of videogames, especially living in a country like Japan.

            And BTW: Stop saying he is not responsible for the games made. Of course he is! When you SIGN AWAY YOUR CREATION, you have given your creation’s new owner(s) the right to do whatever the hell they want. Looks like you’ve got some of your own homework to do!

          • QBasic

            And this is what happens when an ignorant individual such as yourself decides to partake in an intellectual debate: Six paragraphs of pure idiocy, stupidity, and raw drivel.

            You utterly fail to understand how a franchise business works. For you, it’s easy to blame someone who “signed something away.” Tell me something. You chose to go to this and this high school and college; that choice is YOURS, sure. But classes such as math and english are NOT your choice.

            The adult world isn’t too deviant of school life.

            Like I said. If you did your homework, you wouldn’t have made a godamn fool of yourself with all this bullshit you ended up spouting.

            READ! EDUCATE YOURSELF! You cannot partake in a debate that requires BASIC UNDERSTAND OF A CONCEPT…when you lack that very understanding. It’s not even funny now dumbass you look blaming someone for a business decision that wasn’t his own.

            Like I said before; PISS THE HELL OFF!

          • Aoshi00

            I understand where you’re coming from, but I still have more beef w/ what Miyazaki directly said “watch my superior artsy and meaningful anime and ignore the other crap”, that’s a mighty high horse he’s on (despite his good intention that kids should go outside and play instead of cough potato). I have always thought he’s overrated anyway, his movies happen to have the biggest budget in terms of Jpn animation, and lots of other creators/manga artists/animator also deserve the same amount of respect. So for an animator like Miyazaki to say watching anime is unproductive, that’s a bigger oxymoron.

            I don’t know why you clump anime and video games together, you know that the two demographic don’t necessarily overlap right? Lots of gamers don’t watch anime and make fun of anime fans/coplayers as weaboos (like the EGM staff), and vice versa; many anime fans don’t spending hundreds of hours playing “childish video games” either. So I don’t see why you insist Tomino needs to like video games or he’s a hypocrite.

            In fact, his view on electronics on wasting electricity aligns w/ his world view in Gundam, that natural resources are limited leading to the eventual space colonization. I just don’t see why he should be blasted for that, while Miyazaki is an even more condescending hypocrite. “My” anime movies are good enough for kids and adults while others aren’t? come on.

        • Aoshi00

          If Toriyama can say he doesn’t like his own creation, namely the parts of Dragon Ball that came after Freeza, since Shounen Jump forced him to continue writing as a pillar of the best selling magazine, then I think Tomino can have an opinion about games too (Gundam or not) since it wasn’t his decision to make those games in the first place, even though he might have benefited from the property afterwards.

          The way I see it is many creators want to to convey something meaningful to their audience even though there is a business aspect of it (toys/plastic model kits to fund an anime series for example). Gundam was a great series (I’ve only seen the original, Zeta, and ZZ, and only a little of the newer ones) and I personal drew many lessons from it. Anno, depressed or not, certainly had a thing or two to say about human relationship, despite what he thinks about Gainax selling out Rei or Asuka. So I really don’t think he’s a hypocrite at all because he didn’t say anime or gundam was bad per se. On the contrary, it was more funny and ironic to hear Miyazaki say “watching anime is unproductive”, yet he’s still being revered as one of the greatest animators.

          Actually that reminds me of Papa John’s, I think it was the founder that said a couple of months ago in a conference, that “pizza is bad and not healthy for you if you have more than two slices a week”. And the board of directors certainly weren’t too happy w/ his honesty :)

          • QBasic

            Right on the mark. When something becomes too popular or big, the original creator loses control. Ultimately, whatever they made becomes bastardized and they get dragged along into the world of capitalism and consumerism.

  • Jirin

    Right, games are a waste of time. But watching cartoons of big robots blowing each other up? *That’s* productive!

    I thought the culture of villifying leisure was on the decline in Japan since World War II. In a way that whole culture is hypocritical. It’s a waste of time to play video games, but forcing my daughter to practice violin eight hours a day? Well, anything I can use as evidence that I’m better than my neighbors must be productive.

    It’s really nothing but class condescension.

    • MisterNiwa

      His super gigantic battle robots consume more electricity than my PS3. >:(

  • Trotmeister

    Yeap, the guy’s totally right. Videogames are better than crack, though, but just barely.

  • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

    I don’t agree with Mr. Tomino’s perspective for many, many reasons, but I respect it because his heart is in the right place. I can tell he’s very passionate about this matter, and he’s certainly not a hypocrite for that.

    What did irk me, though, and not to call out on another poster here, is the belittling of others. I don’t care of you’re The King of All Cosmos – if you come out with a big plate, don’t expect to not get filled to the brim. To me, anything that has value is not a waste, be it video games or opinions. If 30 gazillion people play a system that takes up a lot of energy and resources that’s just something we have to deal with and if what Microsoft and Sony are doing now with the revisioned systems is anything to go by I think we are on the right track.

    So, no, it isn’t so much about video games and how it doesn’t “support” the planet, but the people that lack of respect for others and things in general – that’s the planet killer. I can tell you what could happen if 13 billion people all played online at once, but if it’s going to be planet filled with so much scorn and disdain, then all I can say is “good”!
    Want to be productive? Start with your family, or your community.

    • Icon

      Great post and I mostly agree, but I ‘spose I still can’t help but find the guy hugely hypocritical. What is the difference between using electricity to watch Gundam on a DVD player and playing Gundam on Xbox360? None, really.

    • Zefiro Torna

      You posted exactly what I’ve been thinking about since I’ve read the Gamasutra article, the very likelihood that Tomino meant more, mainly with the “productive” comment that he made. I’ve been considering where he is, a nation with a severely low birth rate and an increasing elderly population which includes him. He’s probably seen stuff like elderly people left forgotten while the grandkids embark on spending sprees in Akihabara, for example.

      I also believe Tomino definitely meant well, though ended up going too far by vilifying other people and the wrong topic (as this also goes beyond video games) due to likely getting caught up in the moment, considering he delivered those words at a gaming convention. I never ever agreed with vilifying others to make some sort of point, as that’s the only real contradiction/hypocrisy/flaw/whatever I see in his stance. I believe his feelings could have been presented in a manner which wouldn’t have caused the “productive” results as seen here and elsewhere: people venomously arguing over the value of entertainment mediums and not receiving the intended message.

      The only real evidence I have for all this are just ramblings which could in fact mean anything (else), and I’m probably looking like some kind of semi-apologist with my interpretation. Regardless, I look forward to hearing what Tomino’s follow-up thoughts are if he ever revisits this subject, until then…

  • Hello_Hello

    Was I the only one who laughed at the “games are evil” at the bottom tag?

  • narugami

    And this is from the guy who made all that money off all the millions of licensed Gundam games and spinoffs? Exactly how is the Super Robot Wars series beneficial to society? They’re fun games, but that’s all.

    He’s entitled to his opinion but it does seem a little hypocritical from the creator of Gundam. Besides, video games are an industry, there are people who actually work productively in order to create and/or buy them. So his point doesn’t really make sense to me..

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