Part 2 of my translation of Dengeki Game's recent interview with Katsura Hoshino, "Catherine"'s producer. Part one is here, and there's many more to come -- this is a long interview.
- By the way, in the west there are a lot of games where the protagonist is an adult, but in Japan it's mostly teenagers or young boys. What are your thoughts on that?
Hashino: I'm not sure I have a general theory about the matter, but if I have to say one thing, it's that Japanese people are under the illusion that adult life is boring. Well, it truly *is* boring, you know (laughs). To complement that, the reverence of young people's life is strong. But I think the tendency is changing. The dreams of people who grew up in the Famicom era were always influenced by the games they played, and a lot of them continue to enjoy games to this day. In a way, these 30 and 40 year olds are also winning in life -- even in their old age they still have a lot of fun playing a load of games. Since then we moved into an even more virtual world, and all sorts of communication tools are now available. That's why even though today's protagonists are mostly kids, I think in 10 years time we will see many games designed to resonate with the Famicom-era people in their 40s and 50s.
- It also seems to me that since the Famicom-era, there were a lot of Atlus games oriented towards an adult audience .
Hashino: The developers at Atlas are often not concerned about making games for a specific target audience, but rather about making something they themselves like. As the members of the developer teams aged, they probably started making adult-oriented games. Even in the Persona series, even though we made it with young people in mind, we still left a lot of things in it that resonate with us. When you decide to make something you don't understand yourself, you end up with nothing but calculation and guesses. And even if you're very good with these calculations, they will be easily seen through by the players. It's especially true when writing for adults - it must be something you yourself feel is good and interesting. You have to know yourself what is interesting and what is no good. If I have to sum up what "a game for adults" is, I'd say it have to be something not designed by calculation, but a straight, honest thing.
- When writing entertainment for adults, you must probably entertain some self restraint. What are your thoughts on that subject?
Hashino: For example, when deciding on the gap between your work's character setup and worldview as opposed to simple eroticism, I think you must have some self restraint. In Catherine's case, however, the situations are probably appropriate for people in our character's age group, and their expression isn't extreme. It's also visually not erotic at all. Or is it erotic? (laughs). In any case, erotica is not the goal of playing the game. It's hard to define what is erotic, but I don't think we have scenes that will make anyone scowl. Rather, I'd like to have an experience that can only be felt in a video game, beyond anything that's shown in individual cut scenes. Adults are full of that kind of imaginative power.
- Next, let us hear the reason you made love the theme of Catherine.
Hashino: In the beginning, we had the idea of making a game about "the nightmares of soldiers in the battlefield between one battle and the next", but we soon realized that not a lot of people have had real life experience of being a soldier. When you have a high-school student as your protagonist, it's not difficult to presuppose people will have that "yeah, I understand" feeling when playing school activities, but once you're in your 30s or 40s, careers and life styles start to diverge, and there isn't much shared experience anymore. But there is one thing - the connection between men and women. Love and the problems of marriage - if you're an adult it's most likely a large part of life around you. In addition, while love is a popular theme in movies and TV shows, there aren't many games that tackled adult love issues in a serious manner, so we thought it would be interesting.
- When thinking about the theme of love in video games, the first thing that comes to mind are romantic adventure games and romantic simulations, but Catherine's feel is certainly different from most of those.
Hashino: In your average romantic adventure and simulation game, you try to win over a girl you're interested in. Catherine isn't a "winning over" game. We start in a situation where you already have a lover, and throughout the story it's the girls who are on a full-scale attack (laughs). In a way, it's a story that happens after the romantic simulation scenario is over.
 Adult oriented Atlus games - Atlus games such as the "Shin Megami Tensei" series, the "Busin" series and the "Desperia" series deal with gods and demons, as well as with the human condition. They can be enjoyed by young people, but are full of themes that take on a deeper significant for adults.
 Romantic adventure and simulation games - In romantic simulation games, the player's approach determines who will become the protagonist's lover between several heroines, and changes the story's ending. On the other hand, in recent romantic adventure games, there are next to no selections to be made, and the games act more like digital novels, where enjoying the drama is the important part.