At the Game Developer’s Conference in 2013, I cruised through the expo floor areas on a student pass. With such a limiting pass, I wasn’t able to do much. That was, until I stumbled upon Tenya Wanya Teens (2013), a never-publicly-released experimental party game from none other than game designer Keita Takahashi, of Katamari Damacy (2004) and Noby Noby Boy (2009) fame, and composer Asuka Sakai (also, incidentally, his wife).
Tenya Wanya Teens is fun in its purest form. The game has a strange controller, a panel with 16 multicolored buttons, and a joystick for moving characters around the environment. It was never designed for widespread use. That’s the tragedy. But at the very least, I have a memory of perhaps the most joyous game I’ve ever played. A game rooted in the bizarre and even mundane—like competitively studying or swiping fish out of a river as a grizzly bear.
Takahashi sees the beauty in everyday things. His first two games in the Katamari series, exemplified this trait, as did nearly every game following those. His endearing daily blog catalogs his life in San Francisco, and consists of him taking a photo or gif every day, and drawing one of his many adorable characters on it. Takahashi’s newest project, Woorld, in collaboration with Vu Ha, Ryan Mohler and Brandi House, is just another notch in the belt of Takahashi’s absurd, ever-charming imagination.
Woorld is an Augmented Reality (AR) project, bringing Takahashi’s adorable art into a fresh, interactive living space. Using technology from Google’s Project Tango, Woorld blends the whimsical art of Takahashi and the creative, experimental play of AR and virtual reality technologies, creating a wholly unique experience only deliverable from the Funomena crew. The game isn’t a solitary experience either, as anything the player creates and places in their real-world environment can be instantly shared via a shared screen with friends and family.
Like rolling up a lone bear to create the bear-iest star in the galaxy, GIRL completing her 2,489 day journey to unite the solar system in late 2015, exploding hand-holding, Woorld’s AR-driven antics are bound to join the leagues of other Takahashian experiences. As ever, I can’t wait to see what woorlds he’ll create next.