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Game + Artist: Kenji Kishi

Posted December 21, 2012 by Rachel Weil

Game + Artist is a series of profiles of up-and-coming artists who create or are inspired by video games. These profiles seek to reveal the artists' inspirations and ways of approaching art, in their own words, with the hope that they can in turn inspire others. This profile of game developer and visualist Kenji Kishi is the first in the series.

Name Kenji Kishi

Alias m7kenji

Website m7kenji.com

Based in Tokyo, JAPAN

Recent projects include live VJ sets at Blip Festival Tokyo and the mobile game Ringo for iOS and Android

Got started making wallpapers

In high school I wanted my own mobile wallpapers, so I started creating collage-like graphics on my Mac using the same pixel style that I'm using now. I created things like 'email received' screens. There was this mobile site in Japan where you could upload games that had a ton of original content. At the time, I was working on my mobile site for wallpapers so I started thinking how great it would be to publish not only wallpapers but games as well. A few years later, mobile Flash appeared. With Flash, the barrier of entry to programming is pretty low, so I thought to myself: I can do it too. I started with a simple app where the main character could move in four directions on the screen and gradually created more and more complex apps to learn.


Inspired by the Japanese collective Delaware

They create products that combine graphics, music, poetry, etc. and eventually transcend genres. Before I met this group, I was concerned about expression through graphics only.


Remembers playing Zelda and X

We didn't have a TV console when I was a child, so I always played on my Game Boy. The games I remember the most are The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and X. Zelda was the first game that I played so exhaustively that I even found bugs that allowed you to play otherwise hidden bonus stages. X shocked me with its stylized wireframe 3D and cool world and story, so much so that for a while I was scribbling cubes in my notes during classes.

子供の頃は家にテレビゲームが無くてずっとゲームボーイで遊んでました。特に覚えているゲームは「ゼルダの伝説 夢を見る島」(The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening)と「X」ですね。ゼルダの伝説は生まれて初めて遊んだゲームでバグ技を使って通常では行けないフィールドまで探検して本当に遊び尽くしました。Xはワイヤーフレームの3Dで表現されたクールな世界とストーリーに衝撃を受けました。おかげで授業中ノートの隅に立方体ばかりラクガキしてました。

Has difficulty getting started

Thinking about how to develop a concept I would have in my head and then making the first step towards actually implementing it. More simply put, just turning off the internet and putting my head down to create something.


Gets unstuck by spacing out

If I get stuck, I usually go for a walk alone in a park in an industrial or port area that people don't usually go to. I prefer places with very few people. There I just space out for a while. When it's starting to get dark, I start to think to myself "What am I doing in a place like this?" At that point I can get back to my desk and start working again.


Sees his work as simple

I prefer to use simple elements—graphics, music, words—like those found in old video games and leave a lot of room for individual interpretation.


Wants video games to communicate

I think games are an excellent medium to convey messages to the player. For example, just like there are many different types of picture books, it is also interesting to see not just realistic 3D games, but many different styles as well. But then again, that is rather a matter of design. Defining "art" is pretty difficult. I don't think I can explain it very well.


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