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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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

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