Mahjong Watch News
Professional people talk
Living with Mahjong #5-2
Sega NET Mahjong MJ Director
September 23rd 2015
After being transferred to a branch in Nara, he became the deputy manager of "SEGA WORLD Fukuda" in Sakai, Osaka. His first job as a deputy manager was the installation of the arcade version of Sega NET Mahjong <MJ>.
"It was a time when competitive online arcade games such as <MJ> (Mahjong Fight Club) had started to pop up in arcades. I also played, but since I didn’t know any tactics, I was playing very boldly in hindsight. I basically gave my points away to people, so my ranking was very low.
"One day, I saw that there was an open position as a development staff on the company network. I’ve always liked games. I play them myself, I’ve played them as part of my job, and I’ve had people play them for me. However, up to this point, I’ve never had the idea to be on the side of developing them.
“The position was for the development of a horserace themed medal game called <Star Horse 2>. This was a game where players could raise racehorses to compete and win in the G1 race. Since I had experience with racehorses due to my family business, I was confident in my knowledge.
“The precursor game, <Star Horse 1>, was in Joypolis in Kyoto and I had experience in repairing it, so I understood the mechanism well. I thought that development may be interesting, and applied to the position. That was when I became an employee of SEGA Enterprises, Inc. (now SEGA Games).”
Mr. Takahata was now set to go to Tokyo to develop the new game. Surprisingly, the people that celebrated the start of his new journey were his past customers.
“The customers that participated in the <Initial D ARCADESTAGE> tournament when I was working in Kyoto Joypolis, were the ones who gave me a farewell party. I was very happy. I still keep in touch with the Kyoto Joypolis staff and we gather once every year.”
Mahjong Fever Revives
“The development of <Star Horse 2> was very busy. There were many people involved because we were dealing with large machines that each costed 20 million yen or more. It was inevitable that there would be many mahjong players.
“When <MJ> just came out, I lost so many times that I had distanced myself from Mahjong. However, I decided to start playing again after joining this department. For some reason, there was a mahjong table in the warehouse of the company and we played a lot there. In hindsight, we were not conscientious of manners at all. The people of the company played Tonpu-sen, but I wasn’t able to keep up with the speed at all. Moreover, because mentality is weak, I would lose disastrously again and again. I would declare ‘I will never play again!’, only to find myself at the table again the next day.”
Even in that situation Mr. Takahata, began to go to Jyansous in hopes of improvement. However, he was unable to increase his wins and distanced himself from Mahjong again.
"It was when I was 32 years old, 9 years after I joined the company, that I moved from the 1st R & D Headquarters to the 2nd. The machine that I was asked to be in charge of was <MJ>. To be completely honest, I only did it out of curiosity and wasn’t because I found mahjong entertaining. "
Around that time, Takeshobo requested him to do live commentary for <MJ>.
"There was an event going on at that time called Akagi CUP in <MJ>, and they asked me to do live commentary on Nico video. Since there was no one who would go out of their way to do this in the development team, I was chosen. I was used to doing live commentary during my time in Kyoto Joypolis, so I accepted."
From that moment on, Mr. Takahata started appearing on a number of live mahjong-related Nico video programs to commentate on games such as <MJ>.
“After appearing on many Nico video livestreams, I had the opportunity to participate in the ‘Two-Dimensional Industry Mahjong Club’, headed by the voice actor Ms. Reina Ueda. Mahjong helped me make a lot of my connections.”
In fact the extremely popular Cyber Agent CUP in <MJ> was also founded by personal connections from Mahjong.
"The Cyber Agent CUP actually started from a drinking party. I went to the recording site of the Mahjong Strongest Exhibition match <Japan Top Proprietors Tournament> held in 2014. In the drinking party after the recording, I had a chance to talk to Cyber Agent President, Mr. Fujita. I knew that Mr. Fujita was doing <MJ>, so I told him ‘Let's create an character for you and do an event!’”
Mr. Takahata started watching pro Mahjong league tournaments partnered by <MJ> and even joined some tournaments hosted by pro groups. He tells us that his view of Mahjong changed after he started playing Tonpu-sen instead of Tonnan-sen.
“In my opinion, Tonnan-sen were a lot less unfair than Tonpu-sen, and that just fit my personality. In pro matches, people wouldn’t burst out in fits of rage, and I finally started realizing how important the mental game was.”
continue to Living with Mahjong #5-3