[From June Issue 2010]
Gametech Co, Ltd.
In 1983, the “Family Computer” or “Famicom” home video game console was released by the Nintendo Co., Ltd. Originally developed in Japan for home use, their unique games can now be played almost anywhere, at anytime, either via a handheld unit or on a cell phone. And, while cell phones continue to be fashionably decorated, the same is now happening to video game consoles.
Starting off as a PC-software dealer in 1985, the Gametech Co, Ltd. (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka prefecture. CEO: NAGAYAMA Hisashi) now develops video game related accessories that reflect Japanese style and sensibility. “We aim at making convenient, original products that would make games more interesting,” says KABASHIMA Yoji, of Gametech’s sales department.
Their breakthrough eventually came in 1993 when their keychain game, Tetrin 55, became very popular, gradually shifting their business model from selling software to developing video game accessories. To date, they have designed and developed roughly 500 original products, from portable videogame-to-television adapter cables for players who want to enjoy playing on large monitors, to protective, portable game pouches and gear.
Presently the “Wasabi” line of game-related products is their most popular series, promising to “dress up digital devices with the beauty of Japanese style.” Their employees are young, with an average age of 30, giving Gametech the free spirit to eagerly pursue new ideas and participate in interesting projects. Out of that kind of positive energy came the idea of “making products that game players around the world would want, developing products that would reflect their Japanese origins, such as ‘wagara’ (traditional Japanese design)” and that is how the Wasabi line was eventually developed.
The Wasabi series includes decorative decals, protective covers, and hard cases, all adorned with gorgeous, and modern Japanese pattern work. “Since it was a brand that we developed for overseas users, it was difficult to choose effective designs and patterns,” says Kabashima. The staff who participated in the project put a lot of effort in marketing and development, and also spent a lot of time choosing the materials, such as silicon and aluminum.
Japanese aesthetic and quality-driven values are not only present in the design process, but also in the attention to detail. For instance, in making game pouches, care is taken in choosing both the color of the lining and the material for the drawstrings. Other examples from Gametech’s catalogue include the “Rampudo” series of accessories made from cotton, and the “Mokudigi” series made from 100% natural, carved wood, which Gametech can personalize with engraved names.
Recently, Gametech exhibited at both Tokyo Game Show, and E3, the annual video game conference and show in Los Angeles, where Wasabi was very well received. The line is now being sold through large-scale electrical appliance shops and over the Internet, with many inquiries coming from abroad. Their catalog has been translated into English and Chinese, with Korean to be added soon.
Text: YOSHIDA Akiko