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Subject: Geek of the Week #73: Ro Sato (puppi) rss

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Shawn Low
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Wow, what a week. Thanks for all the support, kind words and questions. I was warned that some would be bizarre but nothing really shocked me!

Anyway, I trawled through my Geekbuddies for the next Geek of the Week and picked Ro Sato.

I've always had an eye out on him for his interesting coverage of the gaming scene in Japan and for his quality photos! From Japan, let's hear more about Ro:

Hi, my name is Ro Sato and I'm Japanese born and raised in Japan. Unlike normal Japanese, thanks to my hippie parents, I was put into International School from kindergarten and up. So I had American education instead of Japanese. Then, I studied Film /Video at School of Visual Arts in New York. I wanted to be a film director, but in two of my attempts to direct, my lead actresses ran out on me while in production! That was enough for me to give up on that carrier and I move on to be computer graphics animator instead. Computer characters listen to me well and I’ve had absolutely no problem since then.

Because of my background, my boardgame history is not much different from Shawn’s, I’ve played Sorry, Clue, Monopoly and Risk during my youth. There are not many good Japanese boardgame. We have the Japanese version of Monopoly or The Game of Life, just like rest of the world. I am pretty good playing Shogi, a Japanese chess. I use to play with my grandfather and he taught me how to play. Funny thing was, I never beat my grandfather, but then he later confessed that he had been cheating since I became good at it! Throughout high school and college, I haven’t really played boardgame. May be some Mah-Jongg and Uno occasionally, but I’ve encountered my first German boardgame, Scotland Yard. At the time, I didn’t know it was German, but it gave me quite an impression. Since then, I’ve been following European boardgame scene. There were not much information at the beginning and the shops were more limited, like just 1 or 2 shops around in entire Japan! All this started improving since the release of Settlers of Catan in Japan. I also found BoardGameGeek that solved most of my problems and needs for getting information about boardgames. Not only that, I’ve made friends with fellow geek like, Ken Shoda, Rick Heli, Hans Persson, William Tan, Shawn Low and more friends from all over the world, which is very exciting. I was so fond of the BoardGameGeek, I decide to create Japanese boardgame database myself. It’s called play:game database and it’s been running like 3 years now. My database of course runs in much smaller scale in terms of number of user and functionality, but I have good example to follow.

Last year was pretty exciting year for me. I was commissioned to translate boardgame rules from English to Japanese and I’d been successfully doing that throughout last year. I also participated in project “Japon Brand”, a first large attempt to promote Japanese games and designers in Essen, Germany. Although I was unable to attend in it, I heard it created good buzz and helped people recognize some of Japanese finest gems. Hopefully we will be introducing more new games from Japan this year too. And midst of doing all this simultaneously, I also worked on Guenter Cornett and Michael Uhlemann’s new game “Greentown”, doing graphics for the masters. This was my first time doing graphics for commercial boardgame. I was pretty lucky to work with Guenter. He is such a nice person and he is also very easy to work with. He gave me lots of freedom in terms of creativity without sacrificing too much of the actual game content. Designing graphics for boardgame is one of the hardest !
tasks for graphic designer, since there are so many restrictions. You just can’t sacrifice the functionality in the game and yet it has to look good. Looking at the people’s comments on BGG about Greentown, lots of people suggested that it would have been better if “Train” theme was chosen instead of Tourist touring in a rural city. And they are probably right, but me and Guenter both figured there were enough train games around, besides we were pressured by deadline, so I couldn’t do a different theme. After all, there is nothing like having the actual copy of Greentown with me in hand! The game looked good and at least I enjoy playing it.

So that’s about all I want to tell about myself. I hope there is something interesting to read.

Link reference:
play:game database -
Japon Brand -
Greentown -

His profile is here:

And here's Ro's 2 Truths and a Lie:
1.Hooked on playing Texas Hold'em Poker.
2.Addicted to Sports Betting.
3.Big sports buff, my religion is football(Soccer).

This is a toughie but I can't see Ro being a gambling addict so I'll say #2 is a lie.

To kickstart things off, I'll ask some questions:

1) How old are you?
2) Did you do graphics on a GMT game? Flagship?
3) Do you have a regular gaming group in Japan? If so, how large is it?
4) Is language a big issue for Japanese gamers? Is the rest of your gaming group as proficient in English as you are?
5) How did you get the job designing Greentown? Any other projects in the pipeline?

Let's welcome Ro!
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James Fehr
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Hi there! Follow my gaming exploits on Twitter (fehrmeister)
Congratulations Ro! It's great to see a Geek of the Week from Japan. Hope you enjoy your week in the spotlight.

So here are a few questions for you:
1) I see that you don't have any games rated 10. Which game has come the closest to being a 10 for you so far?
2) Which picture is your favorite of the hundreds of pictures you've uploaded to BGG?
3) Do you have any functionality on your Japanese gaming site that you wish could be incorporated into BGG here?
4) What is your favorite game originating from Japan?
5) I'm a big Seattle Mariners fan. Would you be able to tell me just how big Ichiro is over there, and how many Japanese actually follow the Mariners because of him?

Thanks, and have a super week!
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I had a plan...
United States
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The die is cast.
You say OCD like it's a bad thing.
Hi Ro!

Congratulations on being Geek of the Week! So where in Japan do you live? Are you near Tokyo or further down south? One of my goals before I die is to climb Mt. Fuji. Have you ever done that?

First of all, I think that more than a few geeks suffer from compulsive behavior so I'm guessing #2 is true. I'm guessing that you aren't that big of a football/(soccer for americans) fan, so #3 is the lie.

Actually MMP (Multiman Publishing) seems to be taking an interesting swing. They are in the process of publishing quite a few wargames that were designed in Japan by Tetsuya Nakamura. Do you have any insight as to that? I have Fire in the Sky, and the first thing that I have to say about it is that the graphics are elegant.

I went and browsed your image submisssions. Wow! I'm struggling right now to get a few submissions in, and boy am I going through a pretty steep learning curve. On the positive side it's quite a learning experience. On the negative side, boy do I generate a lot of (expletive deleted) before I come up with something, and there's a lot of room for improvement. I've got a couple of questions for you that will bore most people.
1) Do you do any modifications (photoshopping) of your images before they are submitted? Or do you just submit the images straight out of the camera.
2) When you have the black backgrounds behind your images how do you do that? Are these games laid out on black felt? I'm having troubles finding a neutral background. I bought a white tablecloth, but then you see all the wrinkles in the tablecloth.
3) How do you handle lighting of these images? Specifically how do you avoid the glare from the camera flash?
4) What equipment do you use to photograph?
5) Do you have some favorite images submitted by others? What are they?

I'd add more questions here, but it's a couple of hours past time for bed. More later. cheers!

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