By TAKAHIRO TAKENOUCHI/ Staff Writer
July 3, 2022 at 08:00 JST
Ken Kutaragi, hailed by the videogame game community as the “Father of PlayStation,” now has another accolade to add to his illustrious career after Kindai University in western Japan appointed him dean of its newly founded Faculty of Informatics.
“I may be the oldest person on campus, but my heart will always be that of a boy,” the 71-year-old said. “I want to inspire students to think creatively to shape the future.”
Born in Tokyo’s Fukagawa district, Kutaragi as a child loved taking machines apart to see how they worked. His curiosity never diminished.
He joined Sony Corp. in 1975 after graduating from the University of Electro-Communications and later served as vice president of the electronics giant.
But Kutaragi faced a backlash from colleagues there as they regarded him as a maverick. They complained that he spent too much time developing a home video gaming console, which they disparaged as nothing more than a toy.
But that all changed after the release of the first Sony PlayStation in 1994. The series went on to sell more than 500 million units worldwide.
“Reality caught up with a world which had been laughed at for being my delusion and pastime,” Kutaragi sportingly said.
It is fair to say that PlayStation, like Walkman before it, is now Sony’s iconic product.
Technologies developed from 3-D videogames, spun off to create the “metaverse,” or virtual online spaces, and the “digital twin,” which is used to virtually recreate physical spaces, are rapidly evolving, prompting a scramble for digital talent on a global scale.
The department began operating in April in a new building at the university complex in Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture. It is equipped with an exclusive facility for electronic sports, or e-sports. No walls separate the different research groups.
“I want to bring together students and faculties, as well as crazy ideas, and ignite people’s curiosity from across the world to create something together that we have never seen before,” he said.
Kutaragi’s focus during his lectures each week is to nurture the "ability to fantasize.”
During his first lecture, he told first-year students who appeared nervous: “I’m also happy to give advice for starting a business. It will most likely flop, but you shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes.”
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