Hayao Miyazaki Tells Video Game Makers What He Thinks of Their Characters Made with Artificial Intelligence: “I’m Utterly Disgusted. This Is an Insult to Life Itself”

For a young per­son in an ani­ma­tion-based field, the oppor­tu­ni­ty to share new work with direc­tor Hayao Miyaza­ki must feel like a gold­en oppor­tu­ni­ty.

This may still hold true for Nobuo Kawaka­mi, the chair­man of Dwan­go, a Japan­ese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and media com­pa­ny, but not for the rea­sons he like­ly antic­i­pat­ed at the start of the above video.

The sub­ject of their dis­cus­sion is a com­put­er gen­er­at­ed ani­mat­ed mod­el whose arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence caus­es it to move by squirm­ing on its head. Its cre­ators haven’t invest­ed it with any par­tic­u­lar per­son­al­i­ty traits or sto­ry­line, but its flayed appear­ance and tor­tu­ous move­ments sug­gest it’s unlike­ly to be board­ing Miyazaki’s mag­i­cal cat bus any time soon.

Even with­out an explic­it nar­ra­tive, the model’s poten­tial should be evi­dent to any­one who’s ever sat through the final-reel res­ur­rec­tion of a hor­ri­bly maimed, pre­sumed-dead ter­ror­iz­er of scant­i­ly clad young ladies.

The model’s grotesque squirm­ings could also be an asset to zom­bie video games, as Kawaka­mi excit­ed­ly points out.

Let us remem­ber that Miyazaki’s films are root­ed not in gross-out effects, but redemp­tion, a rev­er­ence for nature, and respect for chil­dren and all liv­ing things.

The mas­ter watch­es the demon­stra­tion with­out com­ment, then dis­pens­es with tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese eti­quette in favor of some strong­ly word­ed med­i­cine that leaves no doubt as to what he real­ly thought of Dwan­go’s arti­fi­cial­ly intel­li­gent wretch:

“I am utter­ly dis­gust­ed… I strong­ly feel that this is an insult to life itself.”  

(At this point, you real­ly should watch the video, to hear Miyaza­k­i’s open­ing state­ment, about a dis­abled friend for whom even a sim­ple high-five is a painful phys­i­cal exer­tion.)

Poor Kawaka­mi-san! Uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly shamed in front of his col­leagues by a nation­al trea­sure, he doesn’t push back. All he can offer is some­thing along the lines of “We didn’t mean any­thing by it”—a state­ment that seems cred­i­ble.

The Amer­i­can pres­i­dent may be into dehu­man­iz­ing those with dis­abil­i­ties, but the Dwan­go crew’s heads were like­ly occu­pied with boy­ish visions of a thrilling­ly grue­some zom­bie apoc­a­lypse.

It’s a harsh, but impor­tant mes­sage for Miyaza­ki to have got­ten across. Dwan­go is respon­si­ble for cre­at­ing a lot of online games. In oth­er words, they hold con­sid­er­able sway over impres­sion­able youth.

Stu­dio Ghi­b­li co-founder Toshio Suzu­ki grants Kawaka­mi and his col­leagues an oppor­tu­ni­ty to save face, ask­ing what the team’s goals are.

“We’d like to build a machine that can draw pic­tures like humans do,” one shell­shocked-look­ing young man responds.

What, like, Hen­ri Mail­larde­t’s automa­ton from 1810? While I can imag­ine such a con­trap­tion show­ing up in one of Miyazaki’s steam-punk-fla­vored adven­tures, the hush that greets this state­ment all but screams “wrong answer!”

What will this encounter lead to?

The release of an online game in which one scores points by hideous­ly dis­mem­ber­ing the ani­mat­ed form of direc­tor Hayao Miyaza­ki?

Or a new­found sen­si­tiv­i­ty, in which cool tech­no­log­i­cal advances are viewed through a lens of actu­al human expe­ri­ence?

Only time will tell.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Essence of Hayao Miyaza­ki Films: A Short Doc­u­men­tary About the Human­i­ty at the Heart of His Ani­ma­tion

Soft­ware Used by Hayao Miyazaki’s Ani­ma­tion Stu­dio Becomes Open Source & Free to Down­load

Hayao Miyaza­ki Meets Aki­ra Kuro­sawa: Watch the Titans of Japan­ese Film in Con­ver­sa­tion (1993)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Memoranda: Haruki Murakami’s World Recreated as a Classic Adventure Video Game

Haru­ki Muraka­mi has a spe­cial way of inspir­ing his fans. I write these very words, in fact, from a cof­fee shop in Seoul not just stocked with his books and the music ref­er­enced in them but named after the jazz bar he ran in Tokyo in the 1970s before becom­ing a writer. But each fan builds their own kind of mon­u­ment to the author of Nor­we­gian WoodHard-Boiled Won­der­land and the End of the WorldThe Wind-Up Bird Chron­i­cle, and oth­er nov­els with a sen­si­bil­i­ty all their own. The Muraka­mi-heads (or per­haps Haruk­ists) at Van­cou­ver-based stu­dio Bit Byterz have cho­sen to pay elab­o­rate trib­ute to Muraka­mi by recre­at­ing his uncan­ny world with an adven­ture game called Mem­o­ran­da.

You may remem­ber this project from when we fea­tured its Kick­starter dri­ve back in 2015. Bit Byterz end­ed up rais­ing about $20,000, enabling them to release Mem­o­ran­da this year. You can buy it on Steam, or first view the launch trail­er above and get a sense of what The Verge’s Andrew Web­ster describes as a game “inspired in large part by Murakami’s sto­ries” which “cen­ters on a young woman in a vague­ly Euro­pean town who has lost her mem­o­ry — she doesn’t even remem­ber her name. (The title, Mem­o­ran­da, refers to the sticky notes she uses to remind her­self of impor­tant things.)” While not a direct adap­ta­tion of any one work of Murakami’s in par­tic­u­lar, its loca­tions, its char­ac­ters, and above all its atmos­phere come drawn from the same — to use a high­ly appro­pri­ate metaphor — well.

“I start­ed with one of his short sto­ries, and grad­u­al­ly added char­ac­ters from oth­er short sto­ries,” lead devel­op­er Sahand Sae­di told Way­point’s John Robert­son. “I tried to bring over the sur­re­al atmos­phere, as well as the lone­ly and strange char­ac­ters from the sto­ries, and hope that the gamer will feel like they are liv­ing in one of these sto­ries while play­ing.” Robert­son describes Mem­o­ran­da as “an adven­ture game in the most tra­di­tion­al sense, in terms of inter­ac­tion and pac­ing. While it might be tak­ing an enlight­ened path to adapt­ing one medi­um into anoth­er, it fol­lows well-trod­den game design routes, and sticks to estab­lished rules. You click on items or pick them up, observe them or inter­act with them, sav­ing key exam­ples to your inven­to­ry for lat­er use in puz­zles that are often abstract in their con­struc­tion.”

And so Mem­o­ran­da at once pays homage to the dis­tinc­tive real­i­ty — or rather unre­al­i­ty — of Murakami’s fic­tion and to the dis­tinc­tive gam­ing expe­ri­ence of point-and-click adven­ture games, the genre that first took shape on home com­put­ers in the 1980s and pro­duced the likes of Mani­ac Man­sion, the King’s Quest series (not to men­tion all of Sier­ra On-Line’s oth­er Quests), the Mon­key Island series, and Myst. More recent­ly it has under­gone some­thing of a renais­sance thanks to crowd­fund­ing ser­vices like Kick­starter, ever since respect­ed point-and-click adven­ture game design­er Tim Schafer raised $3.45 mil­lion to fund 2015’s Bro­ken Age. Bit Byterz may have had only a small frac­tion of that bud­get to work with, but they know, as every avid Muraka­mi read­er knows, that mere mon­ey can’t buy uncan­ni­ness.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

In Search of Haru­ki Muraka­mi: A Doc­u­men­tary Intro­duc­tion to Japan’s Great Post­mod­ernist Nov­el­ist

An Intro­duc­tion to the World of Haru­ki Muraka­mi Through Doc­u­men­taries, Sto­ries, Ani­ma­tion, Music Playlists & More

New Video Game Inspired by 20 Haru­ki Muraka­mi Sto­ries Is Com­ing Your Way: Help Kick­start It

Read 5 Sto­ries By Haru­ki Muraka­mi Free Online (For a Lim­it­ed Time)

A Pho­to­graph­ic Tour of Haru­ki Murakami’s Tokyo, Where Dream, Mem­o­ry, and Real­i­ty Meet

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Playing a Video Game Could Cut the Risk of Dementia by 48%, Suggests a New Study

Video games, the world has come to real­ize, can do good. Twen­ty or thir­ty years ago, peo­ple had a hard­er time accept­ing this, much to the frus­tra­tion of dai­ly-gam­ing young­sters such as myself. I remem­ber decid­ing, for a school sci­ence project, to demon­strate that video games improve “hand-eye coor­di­na­tion,” the go-to ben­e­fit in those days to explain why they weren’t all bad. But as our under­stand­ing of video games has become more sophis­ti­cat­ed, as have video games them­selves, it’s become clear that we can engi­neer them to improve much more about our­selves than that.

The New York­er’s Dan Hur­ley recent­ly wrote about find­ings from a study called Advanced Cog­ni­tive Train­ing for Inde­pen­dent and Vital Elder­ly (ACTIVE), which began with three thou­sand par­tic­i­pants back in 1998. “The par­tic­i­pants, who had an aver­age age of 73.6 at the begin­ning of the tri­al, were ran­dom­ly divid­ed into four groups. The first group, which served as con­trol, received no brain train­ing at all. The next two were giv­en ten hours of class­room instruc­tion on how to improve mem­o­ry or rea­son­ing. The last group per­formed some­thing called speed-of-pro­cess­ing train­ing” by play­ing a kind of video game for ten hour-long ses­sions spread over five weeks.

A decade into the study, some of the par­tic­i­pants received extra train­ing. 14 per­cent of the group who received no train­ing met the cri­te­ria for demen­tia, 12.1 per­cent did in the group who received speed-of-pro­cess­ing train­ing, and only 8.2 per­cent did in the group who received all pos­si­ble train­ing. “In all, the researchers cal­cu­lat­ed, those who com­plet­ed at least some of these boost­er ses­sions were forty-eight-per-cent less like­ly to be diag­nosed with demen­tia after ten years than their peers in the con­trol group.”

Intrigu­ing find­ings, and ones that have set off a good deal of media cov­er­age. What sort of video game did ACTIVE use to get these results? The Wall Street Jour­nal’s Sumathi Red­dy reports that “the exer­cise used in the study was devel­oped by researchers but acquired by Posit Sci­ence, of San Fran­cis­co, in 2007,” who have gone on to mar­ket a ver­sion of it called Dou­ble Deci­sion. In it, the play­er “must iden­ti­fy an object at the cen­ter of their gaze and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly iden­ti­fy an object in the periph­ery,” like cars, signs, and oth­er objects on a vari­ety of land­scapes. “As play­ers get cor­rect answers, the pre­sen­ta­tion time speeds up, dis­trac­tors are intro­duced and the tar­gets become more dif­fi­cult to dif­fer­en­ti­ate.”

You can see that game in action, and learn a lit­tle more about the study, in the Wall Street Jour­nal video above. Effec­tive brain-train­ing video games remain in their infan­cy (and a few of the arti­cles about ACTIVE’s find­ings fail to men­tion Lumos Labs’ $2 mil­lion pay­ment to the gov­ern­ment to set­tle charges that the com­pa­ny false­ly claimed that their games could stave off demen­tia) but if the ones that work can har­ness the addic­tive pow­er of an Angry Birds or a Can­dy Crush, we must pre­pare our­selves for a sharp gen­er­a­tion of senior cit­i­zens indeed.

Note: The Advanced Cog­ni­tive Train­ing for Inde­pen­dent and Vital Elder­ly (ACTIVE) study was fund­ed by the Nation­al Insti­tute on Aging (NIA) and the Nation­al Insti­tute of Nurs­ing Research (NINR), both part of the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health (NIH).

Relat­ed Con­tent:

This Is Your Brain on Exer­cise: Why Phys­i­cal Exer­cise (Not Men­tal Games) Might Be the Best Way to Keep Your Mind Sharp

Dai­ly Med­i­ta­tion Boosts & Revi­tal­izes the Brain and Reduces Stress, Har­vard Study Finds

Becom­ing Bilin­gual Can Give Your Brain a Boost: What Recent Research Has to Say

Demen­tia Patients Find Some Eter­nal Youth in the Sounds of AC/DC

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch David Lynch’s Playstation 2 Commercial, Then Go Behind the Scenes and Watch Him Make It

Hav­ing lost track of video gam­ing some­where around the turn of the mil­len­ni­um, I admit that I have no idea which gen­er­a­tion of Playsta­tion you or a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber may have joy­ful­ly unwrapped this Christ­mas morn­ing. I only know that it prob­a­bly did­n’t come adver­tised with a com­mer­cial by David Lynch, so why not take a moment out of your Christ­mas day to revis­it the Playsta­tion — the Playsta­tion 2, to be pre­cise — that did? At the top of the post, we have Lynch’s char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly sur­re­al spot “Wel­come to the Third Place,” fea­tur­ing flames, a mys­te­ri­ous glow­ing woman, omi­nous foot­steps, skewed per­spec­tives, organ­ic odd­i­ties, a talk­ing duck (whose voice actor I chal­lenge you to iden­ti­fy) — every­thing, in oth­er words, that a Lynchi­an hopes for.

What goes on in this Third Place? Why, the sort of vivid, inex­plic­a­ble sen­so­ry expe­ri­ences not acces­si­ble in every­day life — unless, as the adver­tis­ing log­ic goes, you choose to pass through the por­tal of the Playsta­tion. But the man behind Twin Peaks and Blue Vel­vet has “been liv­ing in The Third Place for quite a few years,” says Playsta­tion Euro­pean mar­ket­ing direc­tor David Pat­ton in the mak­ing-of-video just below, shot by Luke Forsythe, who also worked on the com­mer­cial. “If there was one per­son that was gonna to under­stand what we need­ed to com­mu­ni­cate, it was gonna be David Lynch.

“I was 24 and it was easy to think hav­ing worked for so many impres­sive direc­tors, that I was­n’t bull­ish or hard enough to be a direc­tor,” remem­bers Forsythe. “I was liv­ing with my par­ents watch­ing films end­less­ly hav­ing to try and con­vince my mum that I was actu­al­ly work­ing. The next minute I’m in LA film­ing this. Meet­ing David Lynch, see­ing how he worked so play­ful­ly and polite­ly made me realise there are lots of ways to direct and be a direc­tor. It could­n’t have been bet­ter. 15 years lat­er I’m still direct­ing and still full of mem­o­ries of this love­ly man and the time spent see­ing him make.”

“The result­ing one-minute B&W trail­er, shown in the­aters in over a hun­dred coun­tries except the U.S., end­ed up being clas­sic David Lynch alright,” says fan site Wel­come to Twin Peaks. “Except maybe for the 24 major visu­al effects in just 60 sec­onds.” Known as quite pos­si­bly the art-housi­est house­hold-name film­mak­er alive, Lynch has shown more enthu­si­asm for mak­ing com­mer­cials than have many of his peers: “The mon­ey’s good,” he once said, “and the added bonus is that I get to use and learn about the lat­est tech­nol­o­gy.” And though he has­n’t made a movie in almost a decade, he has­n’t announced his retire­ment either. Maybe the U.S. cam­paign for the next Playsta­tion — and wow, now that I look it up, it’ll be the Playsta­tion 5 already — needs his ser­vices. Fif­teen years have passed since “Wel­come to the Third Place”; I’d say Amer­i­ca’s ready.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Lynch Directs a Mini-Sea­son of Twin Peaks in the Form of Japan­ese Cof­fee Com­mer­cials

Cof­fee is for Peo­ple, Not Robots: The New Ad for David Lynch’s Line of Organ­ic Cof­fee

David Lynch’s Unlike­ly Com­mer­cial for a Home Preg­nan­cy Test (1997)

David Lynch’s Per­fume Ads Based on the Works of Hem­ing­way, F. Scott Fitzger­ald & D.H. Lawrence

Cig­a­rette Com­mer­cials from David Lynch, the Coen Broth­ers and Jean-Luc Godard

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

New Video Game Inspired by 20 Haruki Murakami Stories Is Coming Your Way: Help Kickstart It

Back in grade school, I got into the genre of com­put­er games known as “graph­ic adven­tures,” nar­ra­tive expe­ri­ences — and often quite elab­o­rate ones — through which the play­er guides the pro­tag­o­nist with points and clicks: games like Mani­ac Man­sionSpace QuestMean StreetsZak McCrack­en and the Alien Mind­ben­ders. In col­lege I got into the writ­ing of Haru­ki Muraka­mi, the inter­na­tion­al super­star of Japan­ese lit­er­a­ture spe­cial­iz­ing in the kind of sto­ries that, in his words, have under­gone “a kind of mag­i­cal bap­tism to link the world on this side with the world on the oth­er side.” More recent­ly, I’ve cul­ti­vat­ed an inter­est in projects crowd­fund­ed on plat­forms like Kick­starter. At long last, some­one has come up with a cre­ation that unites all three: Mem­o­randa, a Muraka­mi-inspired graph­ic adven­ture now rais­ing its bud­get on Kick­starter.

memoranda 2

“Three years ago I sat down with a friend to brain­storm for mak­ing a game,” writes one of Mem­o­ran­da’s devel­op­ers. Murakami’s work “had inspired us pro­found­ly and we thought that the vague, sur­re­al­is­tic real­i­ty of his fic­tion­al world would have a great poten­tial for being turned into some­thing visu­al and could lead to the cre­ation of odd char­ac­ters, an essen­tial ele­ment in game design.” This led to a “script inspired by more than 20 sto­ries by Muraka­mi” involv­ing a lit­tle town (which has “Euro­pean-like archi­tec­ture but that does­n’t mean it belongs to some­where in Europe”) “where there are both lap­tops and bam­boo water clocks,” a cast of char­ac­ters from “a WWII sur­viv­ing sol­dier to an ele­phant tak­ing shel­ter in a man’s house hop­ing to become human,” and a pro­tag­o­nist “who lit­tle by lit­tle real­izes she is for­get­ting her own name.”

Kick­starter has proven a viable financ­ing medi­um for a new wave of graph­ic adven­ture games, some of them by the cre­ators of the old wave: Tim Schafer, known for Mani­ac Man­sion’s beloved sequel Day of the Ten­ta­cle, raised $3.3 mil­lion for what would become Bro­ken Age, and Space Quest mas­ter­minds Scott Mur­phy and Mark Crowe more recent­ly reunit­ed to raise over $500,000 for SpaceVen­tureMem­o­ran­da, by com­par­i­son, requires no more than a shoe­string, and, with ten days to go in its fund­ing dri­ve, it has already raised more than the $13,695 request­ed by Bit Byterz, its Van­cou­ver-based Iran­ian devel­op­ers (how’s that for a demon­stra­tion of Murakami’s glob­al appeal?). But you can still con­tribute at its Kick­starter page, and as a reward could get a copy of the game, its sound­track, a dig­i­tal art book, or even — enthu­si­asts of Muraka­mi tropes, take note — the inclu­sion of your own cat in the sto­ry. No game com­pa­ny ever offered me that in grade school.

You can watch a trail­er for Mem­o­ran­da above.

via Fla­vor­wire

Relat­ed Con­tent:

In Search of Haru­ki Muraka­mi: A Doc­u­men­tary Intro­duc­tion to Japan’s Great Post­mod­ernist Nov­el­ist

Haru­ki Murakami’s Advice Col­umn (“Mr. Murakami’s Place”) Is Now Online: Read Eng­lish Trans­la­tions

Haru­ki Muraka­mi Lists the Three Essen­tial Qual­i­ties For All Seri­ous Nov­el­ists (And Run­ners)

Haru­ki Murakami’s Pas­sion for Jazz: Dis­cov­er the Novelist’s Jazz Playlist, Jazz Essay & Jazz Bar

Dis­cov­er Haru­ki Murakami’s Adver­to­r­i­al Short Sto­ries: Rare Short-Short Fic­tion from the 1980s

A Pho­to­graph­ic Tour of Haru­ki Murakami’s Tokyo, Where Dream, Mem­o­ry, and Real­i­ty Meet

Col­in Mar­shall writes else­where on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­maand the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future? Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

William S. Burroughs Reads Edgar Allan Poe Tales in the Vintage 1995 Video Game, “The Dark Eye”

William S. Bur­roughs, like Christo­pher Walken, has one of those voic­es that casts any­thing he reads in a new light. No mat­ter who the author, if Bur­roughs reads it, the text sounds like one more mis­sive from the Inter­zone. In 1995, Bur­roughs took on the mas­ter of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, read­ing “The Masque of the Red Death” and the poem Annabel Lee for a lit­tle known PC game called The Dark Eye.

Ignored dur­ing its release, the game has since gained cult sta­tus, and playthroughs can be found on YouTube (see below). Sim­i­lar in style to Myst, play­ers point and clicked their way through three nar­ra­tives based on Poe sto­ries, with lit­tle inter­ac­tion. In the end it was more about mood and design, and the creep of Bur­roughs’ drawl. (He also voiced the old man char­ac­ter in the game.)

Accom­pa­ny­ing Bur­roughs’ read­ing was a slideshow that popped up in the mid­dle of the game, with art direct­ed (and pos­si­bly drawn) by Bruce Heav­in, best known these days as the co-founder of Lynda.com. Thomas Dol­by com­posed the gloomy sound­track. The Dark Eye was the sec­ond game from Inscape, which debuted with the equal­ly ambi­tious Bad Day on the Mid­way, a game fea­tur­ing weird music giants The Res­i­dents. Two years after The Dark Eye, the sort of CD-ROM games the com­pa­ny made fell behind due to advances in tech­nol­o­gy, and the fall of the house of Inscape came inevitably in 1997.

The Inter­net con­tin­ues to exca­vate what’s left of these bound­ary push­ing games, and for those who want an audio ver­sion of “Masque”, an mp3 can be enjoyed here.

via WFMU blog

Relat­ed Con­tent:

William S. Bur­roughs Teach­es a Free Course on Cre­ative Read­ing and Writ­ing (1979)

William S. Bur­roughs on Sat­ur­day Night Live, 1981

Iggy Pop Reads Edgar Allan Poe’s Clas­sic Hor­ror Sto­ry, “The Tell-Tale Heart”

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Play The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Video Game Free Online, Designed by Douglas Adams in 1984

We’ve told you about a fair few vin­tage video games that you can play free online. Here’s anoth­er one to add to your col­lec­tion.

Back in 1985, Dou­glas Adams teamed up with Info­com’s Steve Meret­zky to cre­ate an inter­ac­tive fic­tion video game based on The Hitch­hik­er’s Guide to the Galaxy. Designed before graph­ic-inten­sive video games real­ly hit their stride, the orig­i­nal Hitch­hik­er’s Guide game (watch an unbox­ing above) was played with text com­mands on the Apple II, Mac­in­tosh, Com­modore 64, CP/M, DOS, Ami­ga, Atari 8‑bit and Atari ST plat­forms. And it found instant suc­cess. The adven­ture game sold 400,000 copies, mak­ing it one of the best-sell­ing games of its time, and it was named the “Game Of The Year” by var­i­ous mag­a­zines.

In 2004, the BBC released on its web­site a 20th anniver­sary ver­sion of the game, and then an enhanced 30th anniver­sary ver­sion last year. Before you start play­ing, you will need to reg­is­ter for an account with the BBC, and then you would be wise to read the instruc­tions, which begin with these words:

The game remains essen­tial­ly unchanged and the orig­i­nal writ­ing by Dou­glas Adams remains untouched. It is still played by enter­ing com­mands and press­ing return. Then read the text, fol­low your judge­ment and you will prob­a­bly be killed an inor­di­nate num­ber of times.

Note: The game will kill you fre­quent­ly. If in doubt, before you make a move please save your game by typ­ing “Save” then enter. You can then restore your game by typ­ing “Restore” then enter. This should make it slight­ly less annoy­ing get­ting killed as you can go back to where you were before it hap­pened. You’ll need to be signed in for this to work. You can sign in or reg­is­ter by click­ing the BBCiD icon next to the BBC logo in the top nav­i­ga­tion bar.

You can find some impor­tant game hints here, or watch a walk-through on YouTube here.


If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Back to Bed: A New Video Game Inspired by the Sur­re­al Art­work of Esch­er, Dali & Magritte

Play the Twin Peaks Video Game: Retro Fun for David Lynch Fans

The Inter­net Arcade Lets You Play 900 Vin­tage Video Games in Your Web Brows­er (Free)

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 2 ) |

Hayao Miyazaki’s Masterpieces Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke Imagined as 8‑Bit Video Games

As an unapolo­getic mem­ber of the “Mil­len­ni­al” gen­er­a­tion, allow me to tell you how to win over a great many of us at a stroke: just appeal to our long-instilled affin­i­ty for Japan­ese ani­ma­tion and clas­sic video games. Raised, like many of my peers born in the late 1970s and ear­ly 1980s, on a steady diet of those art forms — not that every­one knew to acknowl­edge them as art forms back then — I respond instinc­tive­ly to either of them, and as for their inter­sec­tion, well, how could I resist?

I cer­tain­ly can’t resist the ster­ling exam­ple of ani­me-meets-ret­rogam­ing in action just above: an 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma dou­ble-fea­ture, offer­ing David and Hen­ry Dut­ton’s pix­e­lat­ed ren­di­tions of huge­ly respect­ed Japan­ese ani­ma­tion mas­ter Hayao Miyaza­k­i’s films Spir­it­ed Away and Princess Mononoke. In just under eight min­utes, the video tells both sto­ries — the for­mer of a young girl trans­port­ed into not just the spir­it realm but into employ­ment at one of its bath­hous­es; the lat­ter of the unend­ing strug­gle between humans and for­est gods in 15th-cen­tu­ry Japan — as tra­di­tion­al side-scrolling, plat­form-jump­ing video games.

Clear­ly labors of love by true clas­sic gamers, these trans­for­ma­tions get not just the graph­ics (which actu­al­ly look bet­ter than real games of the era, in keep­ing with Miyaza­k­i’s artistry) but the sound, music, and even game­play con­ven­tions just right. I’d love to play real ver­sions of these games, espe­cial­ly since, apart from an unloved adap­ta­tion of Nau­si­caä of the Val­ley of the Wind, Miyaza­k­i’s movies haven’t plunged into the video-game realm.

And if you respond bet­ter to the aes­thet­ic of clas­sic gam­ing than to that of Japan­ese ani­ma­tion, do have a look at 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma’s oth­er work, much of which you can sam­ple in their show reel with clips from their ver­sions of pic­tures like The Shin­ingKill Bill, and The Life Aquat­ic with Steve Zis­sou. I remem­ber many child­hood con­ver­sa­tions about how video games would even­tu­al­ly look just like our favorite movies, ani­mat­ed or oth­er­wise; lit­tle did we know that, one day, our favorite movies would also look just like video games.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hayao Miyazaki’s Uni­verse Recre­at­ed in a Won­der­ful CGI Trib­ute

French Stu­dent Sets Inter­net on Fire with Ani­ma­tion Inspired by Moe­bius, Syd Mead & Hayao Miyaza­ki

The Simp­sons Pay Won­der­ful Trib­ute to the Ani­me of Hayao Miyaza­ki

The Delight­ful TV Ads Direct­ed by Hayao Miyaza­ki & Oth­er Stu­dio Ghi­b­li Ani­ma­tors (1992–2015)

The Phi­los­o­phy of Friedrich Niet­zsche Explained with 8‑Bit Video Games

8‑Bit Phi­los­o­phy: Pla­to, Sartre, Der­ri­da & Oth­er Thinkers Explained With Vin­tage Video Games

The Big Lebows­ki Reimag­ined as a Clas­sic 8‑Bit Video Game

The Great Gats­by and Wait­ing for Godot: The Video Game Edi­tions

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

« Go BackMore in this category... »
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.