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Yamauchi No.10 Family Office (y-n10.com)
946 points by cmod 21 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 276 comments

Besides being a beautiful website, I was rather touched by their call to action:

"Seeking stability only clouds your soul. Fear of failing only kills the seeds of innovation. We must create a more exciting future where people feel free to dream and leap into a world of possibilities. We must create a freer future where people are eager to truly live."

It's hard not to love Nintendo.

Also TLDR for those that didn't scroll through the whole thing, this family wants to use their wealth to fund business ventures in Japan. For those unfamiliar, Japan has had a so-called "Great Stagnation" since the 90s. Population has declined, GDP growth is slow and puttering, and some are saying that Japan has lost the edge it had in the 80s.

This sounds like the Yamauchi family's attempt to bootstrap and create an ecosystem of ventures to reinvigorate entrepreneurship in Japan and their way of giving back.

As a non-native who has lived in Japan for many years, but then moved to another country in Asia... I disagree with the regular stream of negative English language news about Japan. It is still a wonderful culture, people, and country.

And ignore the "GDP" stuff. You will read the same about Italy in English language newspapers. And (South) Korea. Both are also beautiful countries with great food and very high quality of life.

I look at overall GDP less than GDP-per capita. The best metric in my mind is historical median salary. This gives a great idea of how middle class people live. As long as it holds steady and inflation is zero, then quality of life does not decline. The truth is that Japan has microscopic growth (~1% per year) combined with annual population decline of ~0.5% per year. Those two together should mean quality of life is still increasing a little bit each year. And, yes, each year that I return to Tokyo, I feel it is still improving.

I happen to know a few Italians, and unfortunately cannot agree about the quality of life. Likely it's way better than in places like Congo — no wonder! But compared to more northern Europe and the US, the difference is rather stark. Look at the unemployment figures, for instance.

Still, of course, great people, great culture, great potential.

Same with Japan: wonderful culture, nice people, but the problems are real. And somehow, I suppose, they are rooted in the same great culture as the nice things :-/

Lower classes in Italy are not as much penalized as in the US.

Eviction takes YEARS and it's just impossible in some situations (kids in the house), healthcare is free for all, personal debt is not as aggressive as here, unpaid debt is a nightmare to go afer.

So unemployment figures are not really that important to gauge quality of life. We had many scandals where people just didn't want to get hired and do small works off the books instead because life was just better like that.

You can be broke and still have a wonderful life in Italy. If you are smart and you want to get rich: much easier in the US.

Also about your Italian friends: Italian love to complain! If you ask them, they'll tell you. They will complain about everything all day with you. And then leave and go drink a nice aperitivo with their friends and enjoy the evening. It's very different from the US style of projecting an idyllic image of your life when you are with others, and then go home and drink whiskey until you forget you are alive. (Source: Italian living in US for 10 years)

>people just didn't want to get hired and do small works off the books instead because life was just better like that.

The blue collar industries have issues hiring junior people for exactly this reason in many of the HCOL parts of the US. Nobody in their right mind wants to suffer through a couple years as a lube and tire tech when you can work when you can get paid more fixing people's cars under the table.

Sounds like the issue is that the "blue collar industries" employers need to offer higher salaries?

I'm sure their customers will completely understand, pay the higher costs without complaint, and not at all go and find alternative suppliers.

>> Sounds like the issue is that the "blue collar industries" employers need to offer higher salaries?

> I'm sure their customers will completely understand, pay the higher costs without complaint, and not at all go and find alternative suppliers.

The real issue may be that the investors won't understand, and won't take reduced profits without complaint.

Isn't car maintenance the kind of business that's more likely to be an SMB or family-run rather than have investors?

There's brands like Firestone and Jiffy Lube although I thought everyone knew that was a scam by now.

Why would those establishments be scam?

Why not call your retirement fund managers and let them know you really don't need _that_ much of a pension after all.

> Why not call your retirement fund managers and let them know you really don't need _that_ much of a pension after all.

I'll take the lower pension, will you pass on the message for me? For some reason, the fund managers won't take calls from individual participants.

I'm just noting there's multiple dials here, and it's weird that it's often totally forgotten that "less profits" is just as reasonable as "higher consumer prices." Also you'll note that there are some people who profit extraordinarily from capital and have extraordinary control, and there are some people who profit much less and have even less control than that (and have little choice but to participate in the system as it exists). It's a false equivalency to equate the two.

The alternative suppliers that don't have any employees?

Not necessarily in the same country.

You aren't going to be able to outsource auto maintenance to the next county, much less another country.

(The comment I originally replied to specifically referenced "lube and tire tech" as a role companies have trouble hiring for)

It's not like there's one lube and tyre company in the country, or that they don't compete with each other.

I think I misunderstood your comment

Too-high GDP seems to result in a de facto aristocracy which claws as much of the wealth as possible to themselves, an issue which becomes more intractable over time re: Piketty. At both the macro and micro scale, quality of life seems to peak at the upper middle class, where there's just enough wealth that the imperative to keep everyone happy takes precedence (vs the imperative to stay at the top or keep everyone from starving on either side).

I know that Italy isn't perfect, but the Italian-style post-Imperial "chill-out" seems to work well in a lot of ways. I'm an American with no Italian heritage, but I was born there and I think I might have imprinted a bit. I hope to go back someday.

> where there's just enough wealth that the imperative to keep everyone happy takes precedence (vs the imperative to stay at the top or keep everyone from starving on either side)


> Eviction takes YEARS and it's just impossible in some situations (kids in the house), healthcare is free for all, personal debt is not as aggressive as here, unpaid debt is a nightmare to go afer.

That may be, for now, but the problems are real. For young people with degrees, wages are not comparable with those of Nothern Europe, and many end up living with their parents for years, in between poorly paid, insecure jobs. Besides, in Nothern Europe also, the social benefits and indeed the whole economy can deteriorate.

That is quite true, its is probably very difficult for a single person in Italy to go live on their own due to house prices. But as a culture, Italians might also not feel any need to leave home as soon as other people.

I live in a neighboring country, Malta, and we share some similarities. Because our country are two small islands, housing is very expensive. So we have a unique case where a lot of people live with their parents until they get married or are in a very very stable relationship/financially well. This makes us very dependant on our parents, but it is not as bad as people make it seem. Our parents can depend on us to help and we continue saving.

There isin't a lot that can be done. Moving to one of the Northern European countries will not solve the problems our Southern countries are having.

> But as a culture, Italians might also not feel any need to leave home as soon as other people.

I agree with your points. This familial habit is a blessing for Italians, given the direction their economy is taking. It is indeed another positive cultural value that, in this case, may even reinforce societal cohesion.

Sorry to nitpick, but I am a regular listener to Deutsche Welle (dw.com). They have a nice weekly show called DW Africa. More info here: https://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/africa/s-12756

Are you aware there are two countries that are casually referred to as "Congo" by non-Africans? (Hello Africans! We hear you loud and clear!) Sorry, this is a real issue for me. I am so tired of Western (and East Asian!) media using the broad label "African" to sweep 50 countries under the rug that have very diverse development histories.

To be clear: (1) Democratic Republic of the Congo has GDP per capita below 1000 USD per year and is one of the least developed countries in the world -- affected by unfortunate tropical diseases and civil war. (2) Republic of the Congo is doing much better! Neighbors, but a GDP per capita that is 2.5 times of DRC.

If you are aware of all of this, ignore this post. If not, please kindly educate yourself before posting about the so-called sad lives of people from "Congo" -- a place that has not existed for more than 75 years!

I do. I also remember that both were war-torn; a colossal war ("African WWI", as some call it) happened in 1996-97, with some civil wars after that.

Both DRC ($420 per capita) and RoC ($390 per capita) are not well-off, compared to more fortunate countriers relatively nearby, like Nigeria ($2140 per capita), to say nothing if e.g.Botswana ($7k per capita).

Italy, for scale, got $31630 per capita in 2020, nearly 80 times that of RoC.

>Democratic Republic of the Congo has GDP per capita below 1000 USD per year and is one of the least developed countries in the world -- affected by unfortunate tropical diseases and civil war. (2) Republic of the Congo

Reminds me of the heuristic, the more modifiers a country's name has, the more likely it is to have economic or political issues. See for example, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea vs Republic of Korea.

I mean it’s really down to the number of times “people” is in the name.

You could rewrite “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” in English to “The People’s Rule People’s Concern of the People of Korea”. Like any good lie, repetition doesn’t make it more true, and looks desperate.

My rule of thumb:

One use indicates a dark past the people would like to get away from with citizens, not subjects; two an authoritarian regime the people are subjects of and told they are citizens; three an authoritarian regime without any hope of redemption and the people are property of.

So what you're saying is we should change the name of The United States of America to something with only one word?

Just like the name "Liberia" and "Democratic Republic of" hint that they have no liberty and democracy respectively, the "united states" prefix hint that the states in america aren't that united (and european union isn't really a union). I remember, this was a joke from the "warlord" movie with Cage.

The Holy Roman Empire is neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire - Voltaire.

This is easily one of my top 10 favorite HN posts.

Interesting, informative, and polite. (Last one is super important)

Italy is a country of great contrasts. Northern Italy (such as Milan) is definitely on par with "more northern Europe".

As an Italian living in US for 10 years now, I definitely agree. Growth means nothing to 99.9% of the population. But that very same people have not realized it yet, and all push for the needs of 0.01%.

As a regular viewer of NHK US, it’s filled with shows where the producers are non-subtly implying a country that is slowly circling the drain... but with dignity.

Show after show of very old people keeping the family business, farm or trains running. Kids off to the city, grandma literally crawling through the family peach orchard weeding. Lone western adventure cyclist droning around to largely empty roads, cultural sites, towns and always visiting “the last [insert hand skill] in the prefecture”.

It’s quite fascinating to watch, and I can’t wait to visit, but they’re not hiding it.

The US is only a couple generations behind them and we will not be going in as dignified a manner.

> I look at overall GDP less than GDP-per capita.

As you should. But a quick search suggests GDP/capita is below where it was in 95, and only exceeded it for a short period around 2010:


I'm not sure that the numbers support the narrative you're putting forth here; population decline is not offsetting the lack of overall GDP growth, and the GPT/capita numbers are essentially flat.

I think it's entirely possible for both "It is still a wonderful culture, people, and country." and "three decades of economic stagnation" to be true.

> the GPT/capita numbers are essentially flat

We haven't quite reached this level of AI dystopia yet. Give it a few years. ;)

Aging society is another factor.

> It is still a wonderful culture, people, and country.

Of course it is. But that doesn't make the problems less real.

The demographic pressure cooker is still cooking-- a greater and greater proportion of national resources go to support an ever increasing fraction of the old, and stopping this is impossible at this point. Prospects for dating and marriage are collapsing for a large chunk of the populace. Government debt is increasing as a share of GDP and with the change in the dependency ratio and declining populace default looks increasingly likely in the long term.

3rd highest GDP in the world, wonder how much is just that for their pop size they are already super high. Germany looks almost no different, yet I rarely hear about German stagnation (could just be me though).

As an outsider they seem to have a lot higher quality of life than the US in many ways.

Sorry, but I feel GDP is meaningless when discussing quality of life for average people. Example: China is now regularly touted as having the world second largest GDP, recently surpassing Japan. But GDP per capita is more than a decade away from catching up (and that is optomistic). Also, even GDP per capita isn't a very good measurement if wealth distribution is very skews or social mobility is very low.

Compared to the other nations in the EU Germany is near the top in taxes, near the bottom in median wealth/savings, near the top in productivity, near the bottom in home ownership, near the top in total life-years work until retirement and near the bottom in retirement pension as percentage of the working income.

Germany was a wealthy country once, now it's a disgrace for the median citizen. It's bureaucracy is overbearing and inefficient. It's political class at once haughty, arrogant, incompetent, and corrupt.

Anyone but big business, the rich and the government paid parasitical classes (politicians, bureaucrats and the state media propagandists) gets fucked all day, every day.

Germany is a country in decline. The leadership of the ruling party of the last 16 years is indifferent if not actively hostile towards the common people while the major opposition parties are, if anything, even worse. They have the cool rationality, economic competency and sober long-sightedness of an ethanol-pickeled naked mole rat in a blast furnace.

I wish I could believe otherwise, but as things currently stand I fear that Germany is done. It'll just take a few more decades until everyone notices.

Wow, this reply is so strong. It sounds like you a person who knows Germany very well. What country do you think is doing any of these things better than Germany? Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Uruguay, Israel, South Korean, Taiwan, Japan? Please share your thoughts.

> 3rd highest GDP in the world

Yes, and slowly sliding down the list.

The demographic one is the real killer. Debt is high compared to their GDP, and their GDP is not growing, and there is a big structural headwind with the population shrinking and getting older.

> Germany looks almost no different, yet I rarely hear about German stagnation

Germany has smaller versions of the same demographic and growth problems. However, Germany's real GDP has increased by about 30% in the last 20 years, versus Japan managing about 18%. About 50% for the United States.

Over the past 30 years: 53%, 32%, 102%.

Must be pretty slow as they haven’t changed positions yet.

My stats show Japan looking the same as Germany last 10 years, and near many other European countries.

Japan's real PPP GDP 4.634T in 2009, 5.261T in 2019 = 13.5% growth in 10 years.

Germany 3.696T in 2009, 4.471T in 2019 = 20.9%.

Japan grew at 2/3rds the rate of Germany in the last 10 years, against the backdrop of a significantly worse 10 years before that.

The shape of the graph looks similar, but the difference between 1.019^n and 1.012^n over a long time is massive. Not to mention that Germany is not particularly healthy.

It's rather spectacular if you look at the per capita PPP GDP series, actually-- https://i.imgur.com/eD8cECd.png

Yes, it'll be about 23 years at the present pace for Germany to surpass Japan in absolute terms, but Japan has a much larger population and Germany has better prospects for long term growth.

Germany's debt is ~60% of GDP, and Japan's is 240%, too, which is pretty terrifying when GDP is not growing much and may begin to contract in absolute terms from demographic changes.

All well and good, still, the perception and reality I don't think match. I've had this conversation many times where people just instinctually cite 'oh Japan is in decline, doing really poorly, etc', and then I tell them they are 3rd highest GDP in the world, had a huge growth wave in the mid-2010s and I get pikachu-face shocked reactions. Even here, I think you're falling for the meme.

Here's a better graph: https://imgur.com/a/2QI5E41

It's funny, your graph cuts off right before it, and is a perfect example of extrapolating too soon. It's that one big recession dip, and since then are doing better, and before that doing better. More spurts, higher angles recently.

My graph cuts off at the same time (2019).

I think there is some misunderstanding here about reading a graph for growth rate. Anything that starts off higher is likely to have "higher angles" even if it shows a lower growth rate. Which looking at the numbers, we see-- we already did the arithmetic a couple posts ago. Part of why the per capita series looks so bad: it starts at about the same value so the effect of a higher baseline is not so misleading.

The debt to GDP problem, combined with anemic GDP growth and population structural factors that make high growth unlikely for a century, combine to be a big concern that you haven't addressed. Instead you handwave at graphs in a way that doesn't boost anyone's understanding.

I think Germany taking two decades to catch up combined with Japans higher growth outside the recession looks better, I’d bet Japan next decade based on a lot of things, mostly software and tech. The debt may be a factor, but that’s a hypothesis not a fact so you should state it as such, it’s not stopped other countries from defaulting.

Easy to endlessly discuss this though, but without good faith on your side it won’t go anywhere useful.

I stand strongly by the point that anyone spouting Japan stagnation memes is just repeating shallow media talking points that are outdated and don’t reflect reality on the ground... yea, stagnation from a trajectory to be bigger than the US in GDP from a tiny island nation. Without so so many of the problems of the US. The quality of life there is incredibly high, they’re incredibly rich, they’re adjusting many soft factors to be better to work, women, and newer economic abilities.

It’s very roughly like if everyone went around talking about how Ferrari is stagnating, when they’ve had 2/5 popular cars in the last decade (incl one this year) and most other carmakers had 3/5 (but most none this year). Ok, maybe you can argue that, and I wouldn’t agree but fine, but it’s still a Ferrari and the rest of the world is driving Kia. The meme has gotten so strong people are actually out there now thinking Kia > Ferrari. I’m just bringing perspective to how it feels day to day there.

Where is the higher growth? I divided 2019 by 2009 GDP much earlier in the thread for the two countries we are talking about, and got a smaller number for Japan.

Don't accuse me of bad faith when you will not address this point. You keep telling me about higher or similar growth when the numbers do not support it.

As to the debt picture: it becomes more difficult to grow GDP to cover large debt when the working age population is destined to shrink relatively sharply. The demographic squeeze isn't a opinion or theory-- it is a certainty. Even liberalizing immigration policy would not be enough now, and there have only been the tiniest steps in that direction.

I would have been on the opposite side of this argument for a long time-- enthusiastic and optimistic for Japan's economics trends to improve, and a fan of many of the country's institutions. But at this point, there has been decades of underperformance-- yes, from a track to outpace the US's GDP on an absolute level to now being 2/3rds of it on a per-capita basis, with ongoing slower growth and terrible demographic trends.

The dependency ratio is going to be 0.79 people 65+ for every person 20-64 in 30 years, and the overall population will be 25% smaller. The working age population will be 33% smaller. This is a very difficult environment to have significant absolute growth in.

And, again, comparing to Germany is silly... because many of us are also concerned about the same factors-- underperforming growth, demographic shifts -- in Germany.

Germany isn’t doing bad.

Here’s your same PPP/GDP graph with a bunch of first world nations, the USA Uk etc + Mexico and Russia, last 5 years or so.

Please point out the Japan line which should by your argument be an even semi obvious outlier.


All I’ve claimed is at best you can say they are slightly below average for a first world nation, and still very high in absolute terms. To refute, you’d have to show that they are significantly lagging, not just a little as that’s not been my claim ever. It’s just not there. The hype is real.

> Please point out the Japan line which should by your argument be an even semi obvious outlier.

It's like you don't understand my main point: it is difficult to judge differences growth on a linear scale graph. It's like the dishonest COVID-19 graphs early on which showed coronavirus in comparison to other causes of death, and you couldn't see exponential growth it looked boring.

That's why sometimes it's useful to use a log scale, or to just divide the numbers and compare them, to understand rates of growth.

I think I see why we disagree: your entire argument is based on eyeballing (misleading, linear) graphs instead of comparing numbers. I have hit this point 4 times in the thread so far, and you keep making an argument based on eyeballing graphs.

You should be a politician! Incredible work.

Log scale is absolutely not the right measure, actually didn’t even see that nifty trick because I would never have expected it used! No wonder your graph looked totally wrong. Log scale would work if they were staying constant so we could compare on long time scales, but that’s so far from the case. If you can’t admit that, we can’t have a discussion. You really should know that to be talking about this stuff.

These are close values that are fluctuating too much. The swings over the last 10 years is relevant, in absolute values. I can write the numbers out for you, but the graphs are actually less refutable. You insinuate they aren’t, but they are they’re than numbers for this use: comparing relative performance. We want to see how they all are doing, in a straightforward comparison.

No, my point is you’re choosing your window very selectively and distorting the numbers to fit your narrative, and when I take the window away your point doesn’t stand, as it doesn’t

When one wants to compare growth rates between things with different starting points, one uses a logarithmic scale.

Things growing at the same rate are parallel then.

I compared things on a 30 year, 20 year, and 10 year timescale. On each of them, Germany significantly outperformed Japan.

The premise and conclusion are wrong. You want to compare the whole picture not just growth form your arbitrary start at the peak of a mountain (your false framing). And you can just adjust them to the same Y axis, no need for log. We care about the marginal dollar.

You’re doing a lot of work avoiding looking at the graph I posted in earnest. It’s the right graph, and again you can’t choose an outlier.

I strongly disagree it's the right graph. I wonder if you're just trolling at this point. Comparing growth rates of countries by looking at absolute values of dollars from countries of different sizes is madness.

I've given you 5 different framings at this point:

* Real GDP PPP % change over 30, 20, and 10 years to the most recent fully reported year. * Share of high-income country GDP over last 20 years * Per capita PPP GDP over 30 years, where it slid from parity with Germany in 2005 to about 80% of Germany's.

But they're all bad in favor of looking at a linear scale graph, where starting from a higher value in the green series obscures that the percentage of growth is low compared to most of the members of the set.

If you're determined to believe a specific conclusion, there's not much point in discussion.

The second graph I posted is GDP PPP, please tell me how the light blue line is an outlier.

This is how things look, as far as shares of upper-income country GDP: https://i.imgur.com/CaUcjcH.png

This is a reasonable graph to "eyeball" because it's not distorted significantly by starting point or overall underlying growth trend.

Neither Germany nor Japan looks great, and Japan looks worse. Then you consider Japan has 1.5x the population and a lower per-capita GDP...

Your point is orthogonal to the stagnation issue. Yes, Japan is still a wonderful place to live, the best in the world I’d personally say. But it is most certainly stagnating. There’s enough momentum, cultural advantage, and existing wealth to continue to carry it forward for quite a while, but the energy and ambition is gone. That’s what GP was describing and that’s what the Yamauchi family is targeting.

I also love the gesture, but it obviously won’t do much on the grand scale. Not even the massive 2011 disaster was enough to light the fire again.

Thank you for your honest reply.

Here is a thought experiment about growth: What if Google never grew again, but maintained the same revenues and profits going forward? To be clear: Their stock price would crash because portfolio theory teaches us that stock price is an indication of future earnings growth. This is what Japan looks like in my mind: Very rich and developed by global standards, but mostly economically stagnant.

"Not even the massive 2011 disaster was enough to light the fire again." Zero trolling: Are you aware of the special tax for reconstruction in Japan? (I pay it.) It runs for 40 or 50 years and will collect billions (USD) to rebuild and reinvigorate the affected regions. I went on a road trip through Iwate prefecture 2.5 years ago. They are rebuilding. Yes, most places feel like eerie "potemkin villages", but I am confident they can rebuild.

Rebuilding is not a problem. It is the birth rate that is a problem. Tokyo is vacuuming everyone from countryside. You get some refugees in their 30s moving back but it is a trickle.

This fund is a typical Japanese corporate bullshit. You can see who manages it an know everything you need to.

They could just pay 10mil yen stipend per child after second and it would be far more effective. Japan needs young people, period. Not more taxes, infrastructure etc

I lived in Japan for a while, loved it. But the crash when it comes in 10-20years as countryside disintegrates is going to be horrific.

Sorry for my late reply. This comment is brilliant: <<They could just pay 10mil yen stipend per child after second and it would be far more effective. Japan needs young people, period. Not more taxes, infrastructure etc>> I agree: A massive child bonus might really shift the mindset of couples to have another child. At the very least, it would be a humane, worthy social experiment, akin to universal basic income. I wonder what (South) Korea and Italy are going to do. Their demographics are looking more and more like Japan everyday.

Well in your thought experiment, Google choosing to shift priorities away from growth towards stability could ultimately lead to being dethroned as other companies seek to undercut them through competition.

I completely agree with your first point; that's a good analogy. Japan is very successful and stable, but shows no signs of future growth potential.

I wasn't talking about rebuilding after the disaster; I know they're doing that (and I also pay the tax). I was talking about lighting the fire of ambition and innovation in Japan again. At the time I had hope that the scale of the disaster and impact on the nation's psyche might be enough to awaken the spirit again like the Meiji Restoration or the Economic Miracle. However, all that happened is they committed to rebuilding and turned off a lot of the lights.

The GDP growth and sense that Japan is falling behind is what the family claims is their motivating factor.

> We must create a more exciting future where people feel free to dream and leap into a world of possibilities.

Unfortunately this is standard marketing pablum for Japanese companies, with "future" (mirai) and "dream" (yume) both being particularly common tropes. Alan Booth talks about this back in 1995 in Looking for the Lost:

> I passed through the pavilion's Dream Tunnel into the World of Dream and from there to the Parades of Dream and Play. ... Technology, specifically the technology of Mitsui, Toshiba, and the rest beyond his wildest, yes, dreams, can help you fly again. "Love, love, love!" sings a choir as we file out of the pavilion. "You can reach the sky, if you only try!"


It might be a trope but coming from Nintendo it means a lot more. Can't say how many wonderful memories I've had exploring the worlds that Nintendo has dreamed up.

Yes! Nintendo helps us hold on to the yume in our kokoro! Look to the mirai for that hikari at the end of the tunnel!

In other words, I'm sure you have fond memories of playing a bunch of Nintendo videogames, but if you think that to climb out of economic stagnation, we just need to believe in ourselves, that's just a bunch of mealy-mouthed wahoo!

Well just believe in ourselves and dump a bunch of money into businesses...

Those were...games...

It's like saying that Alice in Wonderland or Wind in the Willows are mere... books...

Games are an art form, completely on par with books, paintings, or movies. I'd say they are one of the most important art forms of our times.

I used to believe that games were an art form - but I just can't get behind them being completely on par with books, etc.

The writing is often so terrible... I wish I could think of a single video game that touched me like The Brothers Karamazov or Les Miserables.

Most games seek to entertain rather than to provoke. They are the Harry Potters and James Bonds of the world. Go a bit deeper and you find what you are looking for though. A hard limit of games is the fact that books let your reading experience be entirely visually unique to you. A character looks a certain way to you, their actions have your own interpretation.

For me, Firewatch was a stunning call to action about avoiding the problems in your life. Beyond direct narrative, there is the silent story seen in games that is rarely seen in books. The implied bits, the attention to detail, the care and love to the craft. For example, there are bits of the Zelda franchise that trends a hair into Jack Kerouac's ending of On The Road. The little moments where you can feel and realize the breath experience of those you interact with, the people you save and those who save you. In that moment you can feel that book-like internal narrative defining all that could have been or might have been. Zelda Wind Waker is exceptionally notable in this space. Majora's Mask defined it.

Play an Infocom text adventure. Art, computer game, no picture.

But most books are terrible, too! If we want to pick masterpieces, then you will easily come up with a bunch, from Loom and Star Control II all the way to Disco Elysium.

But masterpieces are few. For each cartridge full of second-rate mindless 8-bit games there is a pack of books by Barbara Cartland, or whatnot.


Try Outer Wilds (not Outer Worlds). There's a lot of games that are more vehicles of storytelling rather than what is a traditional videogames.

> The writing is often so terrible

This is also true of the vast majority of books ever written.

I agree that games are not quite there yet, people who already put them on the same level of depth that books or movies earned the “art to be taken seriously” badge for in the past seem to rarely consume either (or are of the type that will try to convince you that zombie and splatter movies should be viewed as a piece of art as similar in value as Schindlers List).

However one could already say that they are the most innovative (and interesting) art form these days.

Check out The Longing, Wanderlust: Travel Stories or Firewatch for recent emotionally deep games.

Have you SEEN the utter volume of terrible books, music, visual arts, and so on? Taste and quality does not dictate whether something is an art form.

Go play some Interactive Fiction titles. Such as Trinity, Anchorhead, Slouch Over Bedlam, Vicious Cycles. These will give you an experience far more complex and rich than any book, ever.

Even Roger Ebert fell hard for Cosmology of Kyoto

lol you probably enjoy it when textbooks tell you the proof is left up to the reader

Games made to take advantage of hardware innovations that were then built upon. Nintendo has had a direct hand in the implementation of new (or newly low-cost) technologies that have then gone on to serve as the basis for more widespread innovations. Ex. They placed a cheap infrared camera in their Wiimote to enable controller tracking (which means that that tech got into the hands of millions of users). An engineering student reversed this, using that camera to track LEDs placed on a pair of glasses to achieve cheap headtracking.(1) This was then used as the basis for the tech in Microsoft's Kinect(2), which served as the basis for the tracking technologies we see in modern XR setups. That's just one example of many.

1: https://youtu.be/Jd3-eiid-Uw

2: https://www.wired.com/2011/05/johnny-lee-kinect-hacking/

In childhood especially, the line between the virtual and the real is flimsier than you think.

Nintendo for some reason appears to have this effect on the generation that grew up w/ Super Mario World, Legend of Zelda and Donkey Kong.

I played these games at friends' houses back then and didn't see the appeal. Games like Need for Speed, Mortal Kombat or Goldeneye 007 felt more real, less 'kiddie' oriented. But these games aren't really spoken of much these days, while Nintendo originals definitely are.

Time doesn‘t treat all franchises equally.

Need For Speed is considered to be in decline. Mortal Kombat‘s making was a bit controversial with the whole “make employees watch graphic executions to nail the art”, now that in 2021 the focus is less on kids watching violence and more about not abusing employees. https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2019/05/one_mortal_kombat_...

Mario more or less has inspired the same kind of nice fuzzy feeling and polish that is the series’ mainstay. Breath of the Wild reimagined Zelda into an explorable open world to rave reviews.

Please explain your statement. I don't understand what you mean and would like to.

What's your point? Those memories are no less real.

Thanks for inadvertently introducing me to Alan Booth. Just picked up a copy of “The Roads to Sata” because of this comment!

Me too, and I thought the combination of trains I had to use for the same trip was tough work :( I am really looking forward to reading that.

You won't regret it! It's a shame he only wrote those two books before his untimely death from cancer.

We need to get past using GDP as a measure of success, quality of life, etc. Its a measure of gross product, which includes negative externalities.

A company pollutes a nearby river and manages to avoid responsibility, so public funds are required to clean it up. The money the company made by polluting, as well as the cost of cleanup, both contribute positively to GDP.

GDP can in some ways be thought of as a measure of conversion of natural resources into monetary capital. Given the declining state of the environment and unsustainability of many commercial practices, we're at a point where we should start considering this a negative.

We need a new measure that factors in negative externalities and utilization of finite natural capital.

The issue is that success and quality of life are subjective. While it would be great to measure them the same way we measure GDP, I do not think it is possible to do so without using many different metrics.

You are correct that GDP is being misused if people suggest it is a measure of success or quality of life. GDP is what it is, a measure of economic activity (any economic activity, more than just conversion of natural resources into monetary capital). That makes it only one piece of a very complicated puzzle. Many practitioners who use GDP understand it for what it is, but some don't and that is dangerous.

I'd be interested to hear if you or anyone else has suggestions of what we could use instead. It is a very difficult problem to solve, but one that has the potential for improving the world significantly.

> "You are correct that GDP is being misused if people suggest it is a measure of success or quality of life. GDP is what it is, a measure of economic activity (any economic activity, more than just conversion of natural resources into monetary capital)."

gdp (and gnp before that) has been trumped up and misused by the mediopolitical machine for decades, so this has (unfortunately) become a distinction without a real difference.

rather than a resource-oriented view (stuff getting turned into money) as the gp posited, i'd suggest that economic activity should be viewed as the total (levered) labor production of the population instead. this makes it more about the flows rather than the stocks, a dynamic measure rather than a static one. it also centers the discussion around the attribute we centrally value and should be focused on, productive activity, not merely any economic activity, which can be entirely unproductive, as we see with more and more capital concentrating without productive purpose.

no matter what, you'd still need to discriminate and discount activity caused by negative externalities, as the gp astutely pointed out. but that could be a simple as adding a minus sign in front of that activity, as the term itself suggests.

> GDP can in some ways be thought of as a measure of conversion of natural resources into monetary capital.

How so?

When I pay my accountant to do my taxes, it adds to GDP. How is this “conversion of natural resources into monetary capital”?

If I pay you $1 trillion to write a song and you pay me $1 trillion to draw a picture, we have just increased the GDP by $2 trillion yet nobody is better off.

Well now you have a song and they have a picture.

You would never do it, though, because you’d owe whole bunch of money to the government.

If we do this under our respective businesses and our net profits are both $0, what money would be owed?

If you owe 30k to irs - you have a problem. If you owe 30 trillions - irs has a problem.

This! Thank you for writing this diwn so clearly!

If externalities were properly accounted for in GDP, it would not be growing so rapidly. That would be a start.

It's the Japanese version of "changing the world with disruptive incredible journeys".

>This sounds like the Yamauchi family's attempt to bootstrap and create an ecosystem of ventures to reinvigorate entrepreneurship in Japan and their way of giving back.

And it also sounds like their attempt to make more money. Let's just not lose sight of reality amidst all the fluff.

I agree. This synergy between the design and the message really appealed to me.

Sometimes the comments make you happy you read them. Yours did! Thank you! :) ;p

It's so rare to hear about Japanese startups - either becoming successful within Japan or outside. Are other mature East Asian countries going through a similar phase?

Korea has many startups.

There's rumors of a startup scene in China. /S

Greater China has lots: HK (tho not a country in itself, but a special region of China) has some. Republic of China Taiwan has lots.

Singapore has a huge amount.

There's also a lot of people doing more "craft based" or "small business" startups in all those areas, such as cafes, organic or urban farms, manufacturing of various kinds.

Tho that is not the same as VC funded tech startups, some of these things do go that way. There's lots of delivery and gig economy startups. Lots of payment startups. Much of the innovation in social and payment that occurred in the last 6 years has been lifted out of East Asia and copied by startups everywhere.

A good resource for "out of the Anglosaxon / SV" bubble is TechInAsia.


The interesting thing about reading startup perspectives in Asia, is they are very aware of what happens in SV. An awareness that doesn't, unless you are an analyst at one of the big international VCs, go both ways.

Also interesting to note the culture in these places around entrepreneurship, it's very normal for people to consider having their own business. HK has one of the highest "company per capita" rates in the world, tho surely some of that is due to its special economic statuses. I don't know as much about other East Asian cultures, but ethnic Chinese culture is very "entrepreneurial", as in, many people have shops and businesses of various kinds. At least to me it seems to be an acceptable or desirable thing to do at a higher rate than the traditional Anglosaxon culture I also spent a lot of time in.

My impression in Japan is that startups have traditionally considered incredibly risky and is a liability in getting loans and future job prospects with established companies - but that’s also changing as the generations shift.

I actually don't know that much about Japan. It's the one place I didn't talk about in East Asia as you can see.

That's not entirely true, I guess there's other countries in East Asia: let's not forget Mongolia, and Tibet and Northern Korea.

I bet there'd be lots of startups in Mongolia tho I have no idea. Tibet have no idea, tho would love to go. NK I guess there would not be so much because I assume the government would control them, but honestly, I have zero idea right now about startups there.

Interesting to know more about startups in Japan. Apart from LINE/Naver (which I guess is in fact Korean), that Japanese clothing startup (the guy is Elon's friend and will go to space), the older one like Softbank, and many cafes and small (for lack of better word, not sure it applies in Japan), but, "hipster" businesses (things like fashion boutiques, designer household goods and design agencies) I have no idea about startups in Japan, as you can probably tell. Would love to know more.

Preferred Networks and Treasure Data is famous tech startup that shares people from similar origin. TD was started at SV and was finally acquired by Arm (but virtually by SoftBank).

There are not a few other startups (IPO'd e.g. Balmuda, MoneyForward, Mercari, ZOZO) but they tend to only available locally.

...you do realize Tibet has been a part of China since 1950, yes?

I didn't!

Are you unfamiliar with Rakuten? It's like Amazon for Japan. Some people might also consider Softbank (the mobile phone division) and SBI Securities (its securities division, under 'Strategic Business Innovator Group'). How about Line? It's the biggest mobile chat app in Japan.

Other people can comment more on this one: The number of small start-up game studios must be astonishing. Japan seems to have an endless appetite for video games! For publishing, they will team-up with a major, like Sony.

I work at Rakuten and my perception is that they do not really value engineering much. It is just a cost to be minimized.

I spent extensive time there. The way a Japanese investor explained it to me is that they don't really need Uber because the public transportation is so good, and they don't really need Doordash because any combini two minutes' walk away can provide a good meal to you any time of day or night. Their startups are of a different nature.

The Japanese will also explain to you that they can't digest bread because their intestines are longer or import skis because Japanese snow is different.

The real reason Uber hasn't taken off in Japan is that restrictive legislation and a large taxi lobby (which is also responsible for a near-total lack of public transport at night) means UberX is impossible. DoorDash was not in Japan because local player Demae and Uber beat them to the punch, but the market is growing fast and they're joining the fray.

I agree with your point about doordash. I see Uber Eats everywhere.

I disagree about Uber in general. At least in major cities in most places you'll get a taxi much faster than you'd get an Uber and abundant public transportation also reduces the need.

I met a pair of Japanese startups that operate out of New York while I was working out of some WeWorks there.

When I say Japanese startups: their market was Japan, their employees were all Japanese and they kept Japanese business hours.

I never got a good reason why they were in NY.

The bakery AI company applying its solutions to cancer made the New Yorker recently.

> It's hard not to love Nintendo.

The most brief review of the actions of their legal team will or at least should turn you completely cold to them. Nintendo is a classic example of a corporation behaving as a psychopath.

> The most brief review of the actions of their legal team will or at least should turn you completely cold to them.

No, actually it won't have this effect on many reasonable and intelligent people. Because for the most part Nintendo are only trying to protect their intellectual property, and it's easy to see why they would want to do that.

Few people really care that they're aggressively crushing the latest fan-made Pokémon game.

They're pulling an Eden of the East, with Banjo as Mr. Outside. Neat.

Sounds like your typical reheated, cluster-of-blandly-positive and vague feel-good marketing. Not sure what exactly you're so enamored with, or what you're projecting here.

(Also the phrase "giving back" implies you've been doing something unjust. You only give back after you've taken. But all just business practice is about fair exchange, so there's nothing to "give back".)

That's a pretty zero-sum outlook on giving back. Another way of looking at it is that people invested in us before we had any potential (parents and teachers, at the very least), the Yamauchi family wants to do the same for others. They are giving because they received, not because they've taken.

I love Nintendo as much as the next guy but they're hypocrites when they come to comments like the above because they're second only to Disney with regards to how aggressively they chase after their IP. So many fun indie projects have been taken down because of Nintendo. And we're not even talking about commercial games but stuff kids have thrown together as tribute to Nintendo and have put online. YouTube reviews, Twitch streams, etc all need prior agreement from Nintendo otherwise they'll come after you (and if you're lucky, they'll just take a share of your advertising revenue).

Nintendo have a massive fan base but they sure don't allow those fans to get creative.

Sega, by contrast, are the complete opposite and not only allow fan projects to exists but even allow them to operate commercially on a small scale.

edit: this comment is generating a lot more interest than I'd expected from my throwaway remarks and as a result a lot of the replies have missed the point of what I was complaining about. So I'll take some time now to expand on them a little more:

- this isn't just a "Japanese thing", Nintendo of America are just as bad. They issue hundreds of DMCA takedowns.

- this isn't a typical gaming thing either. I'm not going to pretend that all other companies are angelic but Nintendo seem uniquely proactive with chasing after their fan base even when those fans are just recording themselves playing games. Which leads me onto my 3rd point:

- Nintendo are not just trying to protect their IP. Nintendo offer a partner program that costs to be a part of and if you're not on there than your YouTube and Twitch channels can get DMCA'ed if they feature Nintendo games. Even retro gamers playing titles released 30+ years ago have been targeted. So this is often less about protecting IP and more about profiting on retro gamers hobby channels.

Nintendo's actions with the rest of the gaming community is quite unlike anything other gaming studios do. And I say this as someone actively involved in the retro gaming and streaming community. So many of my friends have ended up putting all of Nintendo's first party games on a "no play list" for their Twitch channels because of this. They've never had an issue with any other studio and they certainly don't run their channels for profit either (very few retro games on Twitch make money from their hobby). It's also hard to see how someone streaming a play through of a Nintendo game harms Nintendo as a company or their IP.

And to be clear, I do still like Nintendo in the general sense. I might not agree with how they treat their fans (particularly the retro gamers, streamers, reviewers on YT) but I do still enjoy their games. I just know better than to stream myself playing them. I guess that makes me a little hypocritical too.... :)

I don't think this is unique to Nintendo though. I feel like it's a Japan Culture thing. There's a kick start project for Street Fighter history where a studio backed out of doing an interview due to it not being sanctioned by Capcom. When ever I need to work with companies in Japan, it's a struggle of bureaucracy and politics.

I don't think it's a uniquely Japanese thing but there's definitely a culture there. However my point is Nintendo aren't just passively refusing to work with fans, they're pro-actively shutting down fan projects, Twitch streams and YouTube review channels in ways that other Japanese studios are not. It's also not just Nintendo of Japan doing it, their American company also behaves the same.



I have friends who stream retro games via Twitch and the only they've ever had infractions from Twitch is when Nintendo have reported them for playing a retro Nintendo game without Nintendo's consent.

There's also bunch of YouTube videos from disgruntled reviewers moaning about how they've been treated by Nintendo, which I can't find right now.

So this isn't something I've just made up. It's a common gripe with the retro gaming and streaming community.

Japan has strict IP laws with no concept of fair use, so you do need to get permission for a lot of things. That's part of why entertainment journalism like games/music is super bland there.

(Of course there's also a big unofficial fanart for profit community, which some companies tolerate because it gets them an artist pipeline.)

Nintendo of America are just as aggressive and, as I've mentioned before, other Japanese games studios aren't nearly as proactive in shutting down fan content. Sega, for example, practically endorse it.

As someone who's actively involved in the retro gaming community on Twitch, there is a very stark difference between Nintendo and almost every other studio.

The studios' US branches are usually nicer than the Japan ones; Nintendo is the rare US branch that's just as mean.

Sega and Capcom will try to get you permabanned if you're Japanese and do a monetized stream of their games without permission: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2020-08-06/hololiv...

And Atlus Japan won't give out streaming permissions even though Atlus US doesn't care at all.

Granted I'm talking from a western perspective but what you've described is precisely my point.

This doesn't match the reality here. There are chains of stores (Melonbooks, Mandarake, K-Books, Toranoana) that have multiple store fronts that contain 60-70% unlicensed fan-fiction manga (comics).

That fan fiction is 90% sex related. Those stores have been running for ~20yrs? No one is shutting them down. Further the biggest comic event Comiket, is 70% unlicensed fan-fiction manga

That's a large limited case where the copyright owners are allowing it. There are doujin that won't be resold after the first time (real people especially male idols) or that won't be sold in the first place (Nintendo).

One of the most popular series (Touhou) got that way because it has a permissive copyright license for the game world. I believe Comiket has some kind of legal exemption for the event too, though I don't remember the details.

On the other hand, Sega is known for being much, much friendlier with fan projects.

Sometimes Sega even hires the developers, as was the case with Christian Whitehead, who did some Sonic ports for them, and then went on to make the critically acclaimed Sonic Mania.

Yeah, I have 2 sega books that sega gave the console designs for! It’s so cool!

They are literally saying make your own IP and here is money to do it in your own company that they just passively invest in with no relation to Nintendo as a parent company.

They're saying grow the fuck up, and acknowledging that since that’s so hard for an entire generation they’ve inspired, they are trying to inspire these adult-children again with venture capital to create new things.

That’s the opposite of hypocrisy. Pursuing their own property rights to keep their property valuable? Sell them some shares and they’ll make sure you have that expectation with your IP too.

How does going after Twitch streamers playing retro games fall into any of what you've said? Because Nintendo have targeted them.

How does YouTube reviewers fall into that category? Because Nintendo have targeted them too.

You don't realise just how far reaching Nintendo's lawyers are and thus just assume it's the usual case of "They're stealing from us!" (to quote Pirates of Silicon Valley).

Ah okay, yes I’m aware they do that and they should call off the hounds. This isn’t the thread for that. It is very easy to compartmentalize these things, just like the other people making real money and wealth in this world do. This is a private equity firm from a securities trader. Nintendo was their tech play where they also got to premine all the shares. Its cute you and others have been inspired by that alpha generating bet. That was a complete thought.

> This isn’t the thread for that.

The discussion organically lead to my point (I don't just go around moaning about Nintendo for giggles in any old thread) and it's not as if HN doesn't already have a long and rich history of conversations going off topic.

I also don't see why authority you have to tell me which topics are off topic on this discussion board. If you're not interested in a tangent then fold it and move on. It's what I do :)

Yeah, I get that. I feel like the trademark and copyright system is set up that way where lawyers are incentivized to defend IP. Some consider it a must, to protect those IPs.

At any rate, I would love to see something like a decentralized Disney or Nintendo spring up in the world. Like a decentralized universe of open source characters that people could interact with and riff on. Something like what happens with memes like Pepe already, but more Disney/Nintendo-esque. I wonder if that couldn't be organized with a DAO for the community to contribute to and fund the artists that build the characters and universe. Anyways, random thoughts.

But isn’t it the strict control of brand and image that make those characters so enjoyed. If you let anyone do anything they can change/misrepresent the brand in an irreversible way... just like Pepe...

I don't think so. Pepe is still quite hilarious for meme material. I can ignore bad actors with an open IP and still enjoy the good stuff.

And meanwhile, I think stuff like fan art, fan fiction, spin offs, etc could maybe create an even more vibrant ecosystem than a Disney or Nintendo ever could.

I mean, look at the ancient Greek and Roman mythology. That was an open source ecosystem of stories and legends that different people contributed to and built on over long periods of time. It could easily happen today.

Open Source Disney, Open Source Marvel, Open Source Nintendo

I think the time is right for such a thing to happen.

The interesting thing there is that Disney made their money by reselling public domain content:

  - The Little Mermaid
  - The Jungle Book
  - Tarzan
  - Cinderella
  - A Christmas Carol
  - Fantasia
  - Pinocchio
  - Alice in Wonderland
  - Beauty and the Beast
  - Aladin
  - Heracles

All folk tails or public domain stories. Even Tangled and Frozen have taken heavily from other stories. And I'm certain there's more I've forgotten.

Likewise Marvel has borrowed a lot from Norse mythology with Thor's story arcs.

I've never really followed comic book fandom that closely so I can't comment on what pre-Disney Marvel were like to their fans. But with regards to Disney, it always left a bad taste in my mouth just how aggressively Disney were to protect their IP from harmless fans when Disney themselves owe their millions to ripping off other peoples stories.

Did you know Superhero is a trademaked term held by the duo Marvel (now Disney) and DC.

That said they have never tried to test that trademark in the courts.

I thought about putting another term into the public domain, something like uberheros/ultraheros and then allowing artists, writers, and other creatives to define their characters as such, and while also in the public domain, allow remixing and reinterpretation of the archetypes and stories.

I think the easiest way to start this would be to setup a git repo to describe how it works and what it means to place one of your characters or stories into the public domain. Then build a community and tools to help people and teams do so.

I have no issue with companies shutting down content that could be seen as harming their image. But the vast majority of fan content is complimentary. For example, do you think a Twitch stream of a retro game is somehow harming or misrepresenting Nintendo's brand?

Nintendo is historically HUGE on being family-friendly and controlling their image.

Streamers telling raunchy jokes, dressing sexily and/or swearing while playing a Mario game probably does hurt Nintendo's brand, at least in their eyes.

There's a reason Smash Brothers Ultimate's online mode only has voice chat in private rooms through a smartphone app.

Those characters are enjoyed because of the strength of the games that feature them. Nintendo's recent abuse of DMCA is only hurting that legacy. As the grandparent pointed out, Sega are nowhere near this litigious.

Yes, and segas Characters are no where near as strong/popular. It almost strengthens my point

I think that's more true in America than it is the world over. Even in Europe where Mario is still iconic, it's not as pronounced as in America. Furthermore it wasn't always that way. Particularly in the 90s and 00s when games were really mascot heavy.

Sega is actually having a resurgence on the back of Yakuza games, although I don't know how many people know any of their other IPs. They did totally disappear for a long time.

> So this is often less about protecting IP and more about profiting on retro gamers hobby channels.

I doubt Nintendo’s bottom line is affected at all by this “revenue stream”. It is all about keeping the value of their IP high.

> For those unfamiliar, Japan has had a so-called "Great Stagnation" since the 90s. Population has declined, GDP growth is slow and puttering, and some are saying that Japan has lost the edge it had in the 80s.

This is more or less the story of Europe, however in the case of Japan, the central Bank (BOJ) actively conspired to kill (aka reform) the Japanese economy by creating a boom-bust cycle out of bank lending quota manipulation.

It all sounds "conspiratorial" but is well documented in "Princes of the Yen" (anything questioning illegitimate power today, is automatically a "conspiracy"...). It's really quite sad to see the country which set the model for Asia being destroyed like this.

> Besides being a beautiful website

And at first glance, it appears to work fine even with javascript disabled.

What do you mean by 'at first glance'? With JS disabled I just get an empty black page.

oops... you are right, my JS was accidentally left enabled

"Besides being a beautiful website".

I think my beauty standards are terribly outdated since the last thing I would say about that website is that it is beautiful. Let me list my concerns:

1. It plays sound in the background 2. It is horrible cluttered, the only missing thing are those '90 animated torches and blinking text (but those moving blocks are even more annoying, what is an achievement in itself) 3. It is totally unreadable. Grey text on the black background, text is shifted, so reading requires keeping ones head bent over to the right. I can't imagine that someone with bad eyesight would be able to read the text.

Fun fact: the designer know that this sucks so there is some "switcher" that let you make text straight. One more fun thing: this switcher in barely visible for me when page loads, since "view" text is displayed on top of yellow "3D castle" on the left that cast grey shades, that are almost the same as grey color used for text.

4. You can't mark text, it is somehow blocked, so if you want to copy paste something (for instance to translate), it is not possible. No idea what could be the purpose for doing this.

5. Ctrl F for searching does not work, found text is not highlighted

If this is "innovation" and "creativity" and the way to "improve society" that this website keep chanting in every sentence I would say, thanks a lot for your corpo PR talk, you make into HN top page, good job, but better go back to making money and please leave society alone (and don't go into website building business, pleassssse).

Isn't it clear that the website is to be taken as a piece of art besides also having some information content?

Your love art galleries, full of over priced posters

If you open the menu you can switch to the boring straightline view.

This goes beyond cute pixel art.

Reading text without straining your neck muscles and pinching nerves is boring now?

For those interested, dev agency is Mount Inc. [0]

Some behinds the scenes production stuff on their Twitter feed. [1]

[0]: https://mount.jp/

[1]: https://twitter.com/mount_inc/status/1381805222679379969

The Yamauchi reminds me of Bruno Simon's personal site (https://bruno-simon.com/), who coincidentally has a (paid) Three.js course (https://threejs-journey.xyz/). Might interesting for people interested it learning how to make these kinds of things.

We would have lost our gosh darn minds in the late 90s seeing that site while we were still popping flat Flash bubbles off the sides of the viewport.

But I can hear the criticisms now--I don't get it; Why the jeep? How do I know how much content is present? How do I find project x? Do I have to drive this truck all over?

[Answers: Cute&amazing in-browser experience. Follow the sign to projects--drive really fast to count them. Follow signs to projects--drive slow and read labels. Yes.]

That Bruno website is the first thing I thought of when I saw the isometric design. Gotta say, Bruno did it right. I expected to be able to drive my little car around the website to read about the family's vision for the future!

I've been very impressed by three.js. I've been using it to build a GPU accelerated n-body simulation of my prototype fusion reactor. It runs at 20fps on my laptop with over 4k particles, in a browser!

From the web studio on a separate tweet thread:

"a little bit of behind the scenes

We build a custom modeling and layout/placement tool. We use the modeling tool to build the object models and the animations.

The animations are build pixel by pixel and frame by frame, then placed using the layout tool.

274 original model objects "


Genuinely curious: How did you figure it out?

It went a little viral in Japan Twitterverse.

"The Web is dead. Long live the Web!"

This website is so magical. It gives me a child-like feeling of true discovery.

The first website I ever visited was SGI.com. I saw it advertised in a computer magazine, but I didn't have access to the Internet. By chance, a few months later, I learned the central branch of my city library had one PC with dial-up. You had to reserve it. The waiting list was long. I still remember staring at the blank grey browser window, carefully pecking "www.sgi.com" into the location bar. Then... waiting, and waiting, and waiting(!) for all the graphics to load. SGI's homepage was full of these beautiful pre-rendered three-dimensional graphics. It was worth the wait!

Just saw this before bed. Geezus. Bringing the early 2000s web design experience vibes.

Website of the family of the founder of Nintendo. Of course it's like this. Ha

Family office, as in the wealth managers responsible for the Nintendo family fortune:


Hiroshi Yamauchi (previous CEO) alone had a net worth of around $8 billion at peak:


Which is why the CxOs are all ex-Goldman Sachs, Nomura, Deutsche, etc.

Attention: It nearly flipping fried my CPU.

But awesome site.

Tested On both Safari and Chrome on macOS. 100% CPU usage when scrolling.

Edit: On WOW, from the comments I decide to try it on my iPhone 11. Ultra Smooth Rendering with Music ( which wasn't even playing on my Mac ). And my phone isn't even warm after a minutes of playing around. Amazing

Which makes me wonder. Why?

It must be something Mac specific.

It runs very smoothly on Chrome + Windows with a dated computer.

Yes, interesting all the comments suggest it is Mac specific and not browser specific. Tested again on Firefox Mac, same thing. Very strange.

Perhaps this has highlighted a problem in the Metal render backend? Firefox generally sticks to the OpenGL standard (using ANGLE as a workaround where only DirectX is available on Windows) whereas Apple has their own APIs.

For example, Firefox seems to make use of the more proprietary Core Animation API got certain tender tasks, which no other OS needs special code for. If the Core Animation API or the code calling it has a bottleneck, you'll only see this problem on macOS.

It could also be a consequence of the way Apple optimises their laptops. On my phone and laptop, the websites hammers one single core (about 87% CPU usage on my laptop here). Apple has optimised their CPU power curves (on Intel, at least) to turbo high and turbo quickly, making actions like loading a website and opening an app nice and snappy. The design of the laptops doesn't allow these high turbo speeds for more than a few seconds, so CPU performance drops after a few seconds. For most use cases that's fine, but I can see a website like this running into that problem. Same thing is happening on Chrome, which is snappier for me but also more CPU intensive.

Edit: actually, after trying Firefox on my hackintosh (7700k, gtx1080), it's more likely to be hardware related. I have no trouble whatsoever with the website on any browser on my desktop, even the outdated copy of Safari works fine.

On a 2020 MacBook Pro (Intel) and working fine.

It’s kinda ridiculous that this happens. It’s not like it’s graphic intensive. Why would it warm up any GPU of this decade?

the power of javascript

It was pretty smooth actually, and I'm on a Intel N5000 with 4 gigs of RAM. Not sure it uses WebGL or CSS, but the performances are rather good.

Yes, I experienced something similar. Issues on certain devices / browser combos. But smooth animation on others. I'd like to delve in deeper when I get time to investigate. But generally Web Audio API "sprites" play on the main thread and can lead to sync issues. ThreeJS uses requestAnimationFrame which can also yield vast FPS differences across devices. Developers can calibrate rendering per device, but its a lot of procedural code. Better to just do what Yamauchi has done: get it in a playable state and make a splash ;)

Woah, you are right! I just checked my Chrome task manager (Shift+Esc on Linux). It is never less than 50% CPU at top of page in 3D mode. If I scroll, it jumps to > 100% CPU! The tab is using 250MB of RAM. And to think I am working on a ridiculously over-powered workstation w/ 3.8 GHz cores & 4K screens!

All the bloat of the many abstraction layers. Also maybe (some of) the rendering is happening in the CPU; didn't check to see how they did it.

Are you powering a large monitor? I would guess the graphics doesn’t scale well with screen size.

It hogs my latest Firefox into being almost totally unresponsive. It takes minutes after closing a tab to recover.

Worked amazing on Firefox for Android.

From a frontend devs perspective this actually is pretty crazy. I was going through the markup for 5 minutes and could barely tell what is what and how stuff is rendered. Chapeau!

As far as I can tell the markup is just there for accessibility reasons, and all the visuals are being rendered via WebGL in the two <canvas> elements at the end of the page.

Was hoping to see a bit more discussion on the tech on HN...

Same here. Although digging in a bit there is some really cool css tricks in here. Any idea who the developer is?

Sadly no. What I do however found interesting was the client-side redirect to https as well as the usage of jQuery. And the fact that a lot of text is in SVG

First click reminded me of Summer Wars[1] (Japanese: サマーウォーズ) immediately! The music video[2] nicely retains the opening effect.

[1]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_Wars

[2]: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cZuj-uTvdYc

Thanks for the link, this looks awesome. I’m trying to catch up with the best anime in the period 2002-2018, and this just made the list.

You can't miss REDLINE (2009).

Thank you for reminding me what this movie is called. Saw it years ago and forgot.

That’s interesting, my 2015 MbP had glitchy sound, stutter and fans spun right up while my iPhone 7 deals just fine with it.

Android Moto g - website works great, no heat, no stutter. You can zoom in and watch the motion of the cubes. Is it random motion?

My first-gen iPhone SE also renders/plays it smoothly.

Same. MBP mid 2014, chrome, very stuttery.

What about Safari?

A tad better but still yanky. Not trying to discredit the incredible artwork though...

I know this is not a particularly useful comment, but I love this so much. The attention to detail is incredible, the art is lovely, the song is so nice. I love the sentiment in the statement and philosophy. It reminds of katamary damacy. The more I look at it, the more impressed I am.

Re: the detail, occasionally, the little blocks will randomly run into each other. When they do, they roll /over/ each other!

Re: performance, I've got no problems running it in FF on ubuntu.

It runs on my phone, very impressive!

What is the song called? I checked the networking inspector, but it didn't show anything. It seems "engine.js" is making xhttp requests and building an audio buffer - but it's all obfuscated. This shit is stuck in my head now, and I need an offline version of it.

It's similar in spirit and sound to Space Ponch, who are also Japanese: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8maoqr4E5k

(But doesn't seem to be related.)

Not sure about anyone of you but in my case the experience is terrible. Initial load 3.7 secs, then additional assets were downloaded +7secs. And this all just to show the button "Enter" which was unresponsive. After waiting for a couple more seconds background appeared. At this point I've spent 10 seconds on a site.

FYI I'm on 16'mbp so there is more than enough processing power. Maybe it is because of 11MB the website needs for the button to start working (delivered via 114 requests), but on the other hand my network throughput is around 100mb.

edit: Network monitor says that each of png tiles (~300B) took 11sec on average to receive.

edit: Still can reproduce this but the loading time fluctuates 3-11secs. I'm on FFv87. Maybe I'm too far from the CDN server.

I'm on Android running the latest beta of Firefox and after an initial black screen for a second or two, the website operates quite smoothly.

I have seen quite a few comments from people on Macbooks that have a terrible experience with the website, though, so maybe the problem is related to that? It could be that the GPU isn't great at rendering the specific code path this website hits, or that the network card hits some kind of edge case with the way this website deals with its assets, or something entirely different.

It could also just be that the richer dev crowd generally buys Macbooks and the numbers are overstated, of course.

I also had a good user experience on Android and Firefox.

Experience was pretty bad and i had to reload several times for the assets to even load. I'm willing to give it a pass considering it's not exactly meant to be a high traffic website that a lot of people are meant to use every day though I could understand someone instantly closing off of it.

It's whimsical and interesting which is certainly the message they were going for considering the intent of the website itself and resulted in more discussion about its mission than it would normally earn on social media, I think. Talking about the good ol' days of Japan's economic dominance and how it was perceived as a creative powerhouse on a bland corporate website would probably fail to deliver its message.

On my phone, loading the website is instant, loading the button to enter takes 2 seconds or less, and actually entering the scene is instant.

16"MBP here too, in Safari - it was surprisingly fast for me.

This is the level of creativity I needed this morning.

Unfortunately at the great expenses of usability.

you can turn the crazy off in the menu & get the serious website

IDK if it’s intentional, but the background creates a moire pattern while scrolling. I found the flashing from it jarring.

As I face into another day of tedious Jira wrangling, this really lifted my spirits! The music really makes the difference. I was also struck by the quote regarding stability and innovation. FWIW, very little CPU overhead on ThinkPad X280 with FireFox.

It comforts me to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way about their work- “tedious JIRA wrangling”. Ugh, I empathize deeply with that statement.

Craziest ever? Not really cmod ;)

Update title to Yamauchi No.10 Family Office crazy website or something

We've changed the title now. Submitted title was "The Craziest Website You Ever Did See". It's a good submission (especially because it's not correlated with anything else! https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor...) but:

"Please use the original title, unless it is misleading or linkbait; don't editorialize."


We realize why. But, I wonder what would make it a more attractive title, because it truly is worth seeing. Amazing! Indeed.

Just speaking for myself, but "Yamauchi No.10 Family Office" is a perfectly attractive title, and the intrigue of the title is the entire reason I clicked it. (And I'm glad I did!)

I would have ignored it, hid it, and probably flagged the submission without looking at the site if I had seen "The Craziest Website You Ever Did See" or some other hyperbolic clickbait bullshit.

The less marketing, the better.

Across all submissions, HN has to push back against the escalation of all the various sites that are truly worth seeing to different subsets of readers.

The goal is to help readers figure out whether they’re interested not to “one crazy trick” or “you won’t believe #7” them into clicking through.

It's tricky because "Yamaguchi No.10 Family Office" is //such// a beautiful understatement for what this is.

"Yamaguchi No.10 Family Office" is actually so mysterious I just knew I had to click it. But I agree it's really understated and that kinda makes it even better :D


Clicking "Enter" doesn't work for me on MacOS on Firefox. Google Tag Manager is the only script that is being blocked though disabling (loaded more google stuff and) it didn't help.

Works fine for me on the same setup.

Love it. If i ever get enough wealth to setup a family office I would want it to be as crazy/fun as this. Kudos for having the ability to toggle from crazy to normal views also.

For those who don't know, a Family Office is "a privately held company that handles investment management and wealth management for a wealthy family, generally one with over $100 million in investable assets" (as per Wikipedia) relating to the Nintendo Founder family

Tech? How'd they make this?

Text on the website is a combination of SVGs and real characters which are then transformed using CSS. Assets are from /assets/doodles.json which contains information on how they can displayed and animated on a canvas through WebGL using a custom engine from /assets/js/engine.min.js.

It's WebGL. Doesn't look like any library/engine I'm familiar with, quite likely custom.

If you're interested in more detail, you can run spector.JS on the site to capture the render calls of a frame.

It's from Nintendo, wouldn't be surprised if they hired some of their creative team and developers to work on it.

Im guessing WebGL or HTML Canvas + JavaScript.

Reminds me of the type of websites I and a lot of people used to create in flash in the early 2000.

Except this website actually works and sound is default off and you can switch to a more accesible view :)

Still, I kinda miss the creativity of the early web.

I mainly saw this style in large retailers wanting to deliver a cool experience to their customers and candidates.

Difficult, fraught projects battling with flash and unrealistic customer expectations.

Once live, never touched until entirely replaced by some new hotness.

Sound is default on here (it does need some time to load, though).

Pretty, but 10 seconds of scrolling turned my phone into a space heater.

Genuinely curious: Can someone provide some insight into how this was built.


There is this link from the development agency. However its a bit hard to understand. It feels like they built their own rendering engine and then coded the animation on top of it...

Within a few seconds of loading, Safari gave me a warning: “This webpage is using significant memory. Closing it may improve the responsiveness of your Mac.”

Cool site still.

And yet it worked perfectly on my iPad Pro.

Can’t wait to get an M1 Mac.

40-45% of one core on my M1 MBP, 20-40% GPU.

Nothing happens when I click "Enter ->".

Does anyone have any links to any of the projects they're funding right now. I'd love to see some small indie Japanese games

I don't think they're funding games (that seems a little unambitious) but you can go to https://bitsummit.org/en/.

Mobile version is even better, with a fantastic background music (any guess on which is the song? Can't shazam it)

The music is similar in spirit and sound to Space Ponch, who are also Japanese: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8maoqr4E5k

No tags in the MP3, likely created for the site but I too wish I knew the artist(s):


edit: 吉田 健二 Kenji Yoshida selected works: http://dajistudio.com/


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