Sakurai’s Surprising Storage Skills [pt. 1]
Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation. For additional information, please read this post. This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai.
This is part one of the interview Sakurai recently conducted with Denfamico Gamer. The interview wasn’t broken up in Japanese, but because we are still working on the translation, we decided to go ahead and release the first part.
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The month of December is coming to a close, and nothing epitomizes the end of the year like the New Year’s cleanup. Gamers always have a tough time, and this year looks to prove particularly tough since many players will be looking for a tidy solution for storing their PlayStation VR.
Even a casual consumer like myself agonizes over ordering my games, so I can only imagine how a hardcore gamer must struggle. I’m sure we could all stand to glean some tips about game storage, so I consulted an expert for this column: Masahiro Sakurai.
Sakurai’s Storage is Amazing!
When planning this article, the first man who came to mind was Kirby and Super Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai.
Surely I needn’t remind anyone he is a frontline game developer. However, some of you may not realize he is also a game researcher. In order to help him come up with fresh and interesting ideas, he buys and plays countless games each year.
No matter how busy his various responsibilities keep him, he goes so far as to sacrifice both sleeping and socializing in order to keep abreast of what games are currently trending. His devotion to the art of gaming is embodied in his 14-years-and-running Famitsu column in which he discusses his thoughts about the games he plays, but he has devoted several issues to enlightening the readers about his impressive game storage system.
He has said, “I buy games new and never pawn them off at resale shops. That way, I feel like I’m giving back as much as I can to the creators.” Though he loans these games out to members of his staff from time to time, his impressive collection never shrinks.
Also, as an independent director, Sakurai is keen to waste no time when he starts a new project, moving close to his new office so he can devote as much time as possible to his work, including the precious minutes spent commuting. And with every move, he takes with him his enormous collection of games and peripherals—which has, in turn, spurred him to improve his storage skills.
In order to get a better idea of how he stores his games, I asked Sakurai himself to explain with the aid of some photos of his home.
No Games, No Life
—How many games would you say you play on a monthly basis?
Sakurai: Well, it varies. I’m playing much more than usual now since it’s the end of the year. In general, though, I play far less than I did back in the day, largely because games these days take much longer to play. That said, I’d say the number is about 10 a month, even including smaller-scale titles.
Sakurai: Like mobile titles on smart devices. Danmaku Monday and Mojitan are pretty interesting.
—And how do you come across these sorts of titles?
Sakurai: By pure coincidence. I stumble upon something, give it a go, play for a while if it’s fun. A lot of big titles come out this time of year, so while I’m preparing myself to set aside time for those, I also dabble in mobile titles both new and old.
—This year has a lot of huge titles coming out. Do you find time to play them to completion?
Sakurai: Of course. At the same time, not all games are huge titles, and what constitutes “completion” varies from game to game. For example, there’s no “end” to playing around with VR on Steam. A lot of indie titles don’t really have clear endings, either. Back when package titles were standard, whether one made it to the ending was a big point; by contrast, games nowadays are much more varied, including those designed as mobile apps. A lot of them place less of an emphasis on whether you “complete” it. (Note: Sakurai completed most major holiday releases by the middle of the month.)
—So you tend to play until you’re satisfied.
Sakurai: Well, that depends. Sometimes work has me so busy that I can’t keep playing even if I want to. Other times, I’ll sense a need to know about a certain game, and do everything I can to make time for it.
—How much time do you devote to gaming each day?
Sakurai: Three hours at most on weekdays. I have two TVs in my living room, so I play games on one and fast forward through some movies and programs I recorded on the other while I pedal the stationary bike.
—What!? I’ve heard of people gaming while they watch TV, but on fast forward? And while you exercise!?
Sakurai: I’m on my way to an early grave (laughs). I used to go to the gym, but I stopped going since most places close late at night. I decided to buy a stationary bike instead, and I’ve been using it for about four or five years now.
—What kind of TV shows do you watch?
Sakurai: Anything and everything: variety shows, cartoons, even documentaries and news shows. My TV automatically records all channels. The Heroic Yoshihiko and the Summoned Seven is pretty funny (laughs).
—And you read a lot of comic books, too.
Sakurai: Quite a few. Every day, I play games while I pedal on the stationary bike, take a bath, jump into bed, and fall asleep reading a comic or some other book. Most of my reading is done digitally now, but I’ve amassed quite a collection.
—Are you sure you’re getting enough sleep?
Sakurai: Lately, I’ve had to respond to emails even after I go home, and I don’t truly finish working until after midnight. That said, I still manage to get about six hours of sleep every night. That sounds like enough, doesn’t it?
—It does, surprisingly. Moving on to the focus of our article, roughly how many games do you own?
Sakurai: I actually have no idea. My collection has grown so much that I stopped counting a long time ago, but I had about 1,700 games at the time. I’d imagine I’ve got at least 3,000 by now.
—Including downloaded titles?
Sakurai: Ah, good point. In that case, the number is even higher. I downloaded almost every single title on the Wii’s Virtual Console (laughs).
—You really are a gaming scholar! Do you write down notes about games while you play?
—So you only make mental notes?
Sakurai: Right, all I have are my experiences. I’m not that meticulous about how I play.
Storing Games at Sakurai’s House
Sakurai always keeps new games in his line of vision, laying a handful of titles out on the table in his living room. Once he completes a game from the table or once a couple months have passed since its release, he puts it in a drawer. When the drawer gets full, he dismantles the case and stores the games in his closet. Let’s take a look inside!
Sakurai: Let’s start with my Famicom titles. It isn’t perfect, but I’ve more or less arranged them chronologically based on their release dates. You can’t tell titles apart just by looking at the back of the cartridges, so I’ve printed their names onto stickers and stuck those on. The cartridges are the perfect size for a cassette tape storage tower, but the tapes themselves are an outdated medium, so a storage tower is hard to come by. I just stack the ones that don’t fit elsewhere.
—Sega Genesis cartridges have round corners, so they look liable to topple over (laughs).
Sakurai: (Laughs). At the same time, my stacks of games generally reach the closet ceiling, so they’re pretty stable. I also don’t take my Famicom or Genesis games out that much anymore, so all I care about is storage. I keep the systems themselves in the storage unit beneath my apartment building.
—Do you keep them in storage because they’re so bulky?
Sakurai: Even if I were to keep them out, I couldn’t play them. I don’t have any special AV or S-Video adapters handy, and TVs nowadays are only really compatible with HDMI cables. I keep all my cables in the same place in the storage unit.
—Arranging everything by hardware is pretty standard.
Sakurai: Right. Everything is basically arranged by hardware and stored in separate boxes. Controllers, cables, and other peripherals are all stored in separate colored drawers. Joysticks and other devices compatible with multiple platforms get me thinking about usability.
Sakurai: Here’s my case of Sega Genesis games. The titles are all visible, so I generally don’t need to print any extra labels. There are some outliers, though. Here’s a US copy of The Punisher. Capcom originally released it as an arcade title, but it was ported over.
—And you bought a foreign copy, no less.
Sakurai: I’ve always collected overseas releases. I had a number of others, like M1 Abrams and Cyborg Justice.
Sakurai: Next is my Super Nintendo collection. These cartridges are a bit of a pain from a storage perspective: they don’t stack very well (laughs). They don’t fit well into generic storage containers, so I bought an SNES-exclusive case for them, and it’s pretty rare nowadays.
—Wow, I haven’t seen one of those in ages (laughs).
Sakurai: Only a small number of them were ever produced. It still doesn’t provide enough storage space for all the games I have, so I’m stuck stacking the leftover titles. If there were only a better way to store them…
—Did you create the SNES logo you printed on those labels?
Sakurai: Yep, just like that (laughs).
—That’s some attention to detail (laughs).
Sakurai: The games themselves are all of a uniform size, so it’s important to find a container that fits the size and shape exactly. Unfortunately, I’ve found myself late to the party on several occasions…
Sakurai: Meaning that I regret not buying more SNES storage cases and cassette tape racks when I had the chance. It’s a lot harder looking for them once they’ve gone out of production.
—True, but you only really start thinking about storage once you already have a huge collection.
Sakurai: It’s tough. Speaking of going out of production, I heard that the Dempa Shimbun Corporation has stopped producing up-scan converters because they don’t have the parts.
—Which means people won’t be able to connect their old hardware to new TVs…
Sakurai: To clarify for those who don’t know, you plug AV, S-Video, and EIA Multiport cables into the adapter, and it converts the signal for HDMI output. I started looking for one as soon as I heard the news, but it was already too hard to find, so I gave up. It’s unfortunate because I was just thinking how I should buy a spare just in case… I really blew it.
Sakurai: GameCube discs have a diameter of 8 centimeters, so I file them away in non-woven fabric disc sleeves. I added serial numbers and Sora stickers to titles I lent out to members of my development team as reference materials. I did my best to keep track of them all, but a few discs seem to have run off somewhere…
—Those Sora stickers are great (laughs).
Sakurai: I have a ton of them. I even put one on my umbrella (laughs).
Sakurai: And here we have my PSP UMD discs. I wrote about this in my Weekly Famitsu column, but the UMD discs have a pretty unique shape. The discs themselves are exposed, so I had a real hard time finding the right kind of storage.
—If I remember correctly, you said you found this container at Tokyu Hands.
Sakurai: That’s right. I was quite relieved to find a container that perfectly fit my drawer. It might be hard to tell, but this container is actually two-tiered, so it can store twice as many games than you would expect at first glance. That said, I bought this a long time ago, so it would be hard to find another even if I wanted to. I’ve started to tell myself that if I find something good, I should buy several of them just in case. I ended up blocking the title with my hand, but the games in the bottom-right are categorized as “retro.” I think I’m holding an overseas version of the Capcom Classics Collection.
Sakurai: I use a regular retail case for my Nintendo 3DS games. Each one holds 18 games, despite its compact size. I have a lot of 3DS and PlayStation Vita titles, and it’s hard to tell which is which without looking at the front, so having them all laid out like this is crucial. As you can see, the two cases on the left are filled with Nintendo titles. That’s because I pulled out the first-party games and used them as reference material when I was making Smash. I did the same with my GameCube games, so they don’t really follow my rule about ordering them chronologically based on release dates.
Sakurai: And this here is a standard set of sleeves for DVDs and Blu-ray discs. You can fit between 80 to 160 discs in one binder, so I have more of these than any other container. I label the handles PS4, Xbox, and so on.
—The protective layer on Blu-ray discs is pretty thin. Isn’t it a little dangerous to keep them in non-woven fabric sleeves?
Sakurai: I haven’t had any problems. I keep the binders in bookshelves instead of stacking them, and I’m not constantly pulling them out, either. I keep my CDs and DVDs the same way.
—Speaking of which, you have a number of game soundtracks as well.
Sakurai: I do, indeed.
—Which means you probably have a ton of discs aside from your game collection.
Sakurai: Not nearly as many, though. I can watch movies on demand, so I don’t have much need for discs anymore. Most of what I own are game soundtracks, which I used as reference for Press Start (orchestral game concert series), Smash, and other aspects of my work. I can’t imagine how many days it would take me to listen to everything (laughs).
—Do you keep a list of all your games and other discs?
Sakurai: I did at one point, but not anymore. I’ve started buying digital versions, so they kind of keep track of themselves.
—It must be difficult to find games when you own as many as you do.
Sakurai: I have a pretty good grasp of when each title was released, so it isn’t too hard to find what I’m looking for, but it becomes a little more difficult once I start loaning out my games. A lot of times when I get a game back, the disc is facing a different direction than how it was when I organized it. I always keep things straight and orderly, but apparently not everyone else does. I’m really not that much of a stickler, though (laughs).
—That would certainly make games a lot harder to find.
Sakurai: You’re exactly right.
—You mentioned you prioritize purchasing digital titles now.
Sakurai: Right. I’ve decided to purchase digital versions from now on, save for the games I receive from other people. Packaged versions are fine for games I’ll only play then and there, but I prefer digital versions for games I know I’ll be playing for a long time or games I’d like to save for future use. Actually, some of the cartridges I have can’t be read anymore. ROMs don’t last forever. Digital services have more longevity, in my opinion, since they’re very likely to remain even if you lose your data or the system itself.
—That’s an interesting thought. Platform holders certainly seem like their contents would have a longer lifespan.
Sakurai: I certainly hope so. That said, I can’t help but wonder when people start having lots of trouble transferring things from one machine to another. Ensuring the safety and stability of the consumer’s purchases is all part of the business, so I try to have faith in those producing the hardware.
Stay tune for the second half of the translation! Follow Source Gaming on Twitter so you can read it right away!
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