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Playism Helping Indie Games and Crowdfunding Come to Japan

Playism Helping Indie Games and Crowdfunding Come to Japan (photo)

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Japan’s long been the epicenter of video game production and culture. The two of the three major game console companies-Sony and Nintendo-originated there and the combination of manufacturing and consumer electronics development resources made the Land of the Rising Sun dominant for much of the medium’s history.

Things are changing, though. Video game development’s become vastly more de-centralized, as big publishers work with and foster studios all over the world. And then there’s the indie scene, filled with do-it-yourself artists and programmers who totally bypassed traditional business models. They’ve found audiences on the PC, iPhone, iPad and Android devices via digital distribution and direct sales. Maybe it’s the permanence of the idea of rigid, top-down corporate structures being the only way to find one’s calling in video games, but the indie game development mindset really hasn’t taken off in Japan. There’ve been instances that have been close, like the idiosyncratic genesis of “Katamari Damacy” from the quirky mind of Keita Takahashi or the involvement of visual artist and DJ Baiyon in “PixelJunk Eden” for the PS3. But, as unique as those games were, they still game through the development pipeline of major studios. It’s been far rarer that something’s followed in the footsteps of proto-indie “Cave Story,” where one guy made the whole thing himself and put it out to the world.

A new service called Playism wants to change all that. Parent company Active Gaming Media is looking to do a two-way indie gaming exchange with Japan and America and other Western countries. The idea would be to bring acclaimed indies like Machinarium to the Japanese market through a dedicated retail site and do the same for Japanese small-dev titles in the West. Active Gaming Media’s already established as localization site so they’ll handle the translation and presentation concerns involved with moving a game from one region to another. They charge a small fee for this part of the Playism service and will even waive it in certain instances, in exchange for a period of distribution exclusivity.

One of the ways that indie devs have paid for the costs of making their games has been through PayPal donations, paid betas like Chris Hecker’s doing with SpyParty or crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. Playism’s endeavoring to set up a space to do the same for doujin games, a Japanese term which refers to amateur, fan-made or hobbyist projects. Crowdfunding’s under way for one title called “Desi Leaves Town.”

They’re also looking to staff up as well, so if you have a passion for indie games and a facility for the Japanese language, visit their English landing page to find out how to get in touch. If AMG’s gambit works, it’ll create a nice cultural pipeline between indie game creators and players all over the world. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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