Article in The Nikkei (the world’s largest financial newspaper) featuring Tokido and Dr. Ishikawa. Ishikawa is a big fan of gaming and has done speeches/lectures with Daigo in the past. It’s a weird interview where they seem to be talking at each other instead of to each other at points; but there are some interesting things brought up. I don’t have an editor and I’m just doing this for fun, so if there are any mistakes then…too bad!
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Original Article- http://bizgate.nikkei.co.jp/article/109211013.html
「Going to Todai so People Won’t Complain」
Ishikawa: When talking about Japanese pro-gamers, Daigo Umehara is the first name that comes to mind. He was Japan’s first pro-gamer, as well as Tokido’s senpai when they played on the same team. Actually, when I was in High School, I played a match again Daigo…
Tokido: Oh, really?
Ishikawa: Yes, of course I lost, but I had no idea the reason why…up until then, whether I had won or lost, I always understood the reason why. “Man, this is hopeless” I thought, and decided to change my “battlefield” to a different game (laughing).
Tokido: What game did you play?
Ishikawa: Do you know, “Waniwani Panic”? It’s a game where crocodiles pop out from rocks and you hit them.
Tokido: Yes. It’s a pretty crazy game (laughing).
Ishikawa: I called it “WaniPani” (laughing). Games really are incredibly fun, but there were lots of times when I thought, “If I continue playing games, what will happen to my future?” and in the end I didn’t have faith in myself to be able to continue playing games so I quit. Tokido, why did you decide to become a pro-gamer?
Tokido: I’m always asked this, but answering is difficult. Ever since I was a kid, I always played games, and even now I feel like I want to continue playing games. I have a very childish mind (laughing). My feelings for entering Todai(Tokyo University) were, “If I go there, then even if I play games there will be no one who can complain”. That was one reason, but I also wanted to change the way the world looked at gamers. “There are gamers like this, too.”
Ishikawa: When you were a kid, what kinds of games did you play?
Tokido: I always played Fighting Games. And just a little, I also played RPG’s like “Dragon Quest”.
Ishikawa: What kind of playstyle did you have? I mean, when adults look at children playing games, it seems to them like all kids are enjoying games the same way, but I think there are lots of individual ways for players to enjoy games.
Tokido: For example?
Ishikawa: Well, in the case of Dragon Quest, there’s the “First I’ll max my level and make sure I’m strong enough, then fight the boss”-type and the “Well, I’ll just go!”-type. I feel like female players tend to lean more towards the “Prepare well, then go” type. Regarding that, and this is just a generalization, but it is said that if females don’t have confirmation that “You can do it!”, then it is difficult for them to proceed forward.
「Zuckerberg is the Hero of Dragon Quest?」
Tokido: I see, I think that’s true.
Ishikawa: To build on that, I believe that the reason females tend to avoid Management positions is based around that reason. If they don’t truly have confidence in doing something, then they can’t take action. On the other hand, if you ask a man “Can you do it?”, he will immediately respond “I’ll do it!”. It’s cute (laughing).
Tokido: I understand that mindset.
Ishikawa: As for me, when I played Dragon Quest, I was fascinated by the fact that the Hero was the main character. What I’m saying is, the Hero starts off as a weakling, right? He can’t use magic and doesn’t have any special powers. All he has is a vague dream. Something is happening in the world. He doesn’t know what, he just knows that something is happening. Therefore, he decides to go on a journey. For me, I thought “Maybe this is the same as the Heroes in the real world?”. Speaking of now, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg probably started off the same way.
Tokido: You think too much (laughing).
Ishikawa: It would be nice if I became the Hero, but actually I’m not that type of person. Therefore, If I didn’t become friends with the Hero, then I’d never be able to leave on my journey. But, will I notice when the Hero calls out to me, what should I do if I don’t notice and miss my chance…I was incredibly worried about these things (laughing).
Tokido: You really thought a lot about this (laughing).
Ishikawa: Therefore, I never really had any interest in raising my level and defeating the bosses. If I could make a discovery on my own, then I was satisfied. What style did you play games, Tokido.
Tokido: I enjoyed defeating the bosses then talking with my friends about how they defeated the bosses. As for Fighting Games, I played with the feeling of “There’s no way I’m going to lose to you!”. The reason why is that out of all my friends, I played the most. Therefore If I lost, even though I practiced the most, I would think “Why did I lose? Why am I bad?” and get angry.
Ishikawa: As expected, you have a lot of fighting spirit (laughing). Compared to other pro-gamers, I think what sticks out about you is the wide variety of games you play. You could be called an “Omnipotent Type”, or maybe a “Jack of All Trades”. Do you not want to lose, no matter the game?
Tokido: That’s right. Speaking frankly, on becoming a pro, I could not forgive Daigo for becoming a pro before me. I thought “Why not me! I’m stronger than he is!”. At that time, I still did not understand how incredible Daigo was. But recently, just like you said earlier, I began to find joy in discovering things through games rather than just winning. I realized that this is a more important technique than just playing for a long time, so I’m trying to focus more on discovery.
「I Was Satisfied Just Winning」
Ishikawa: Are “Playing to Win” and “Playing to Discover” different?
Tokido: If you play just for the sake of winning, then you will eventually reach a plateau. You won’t be able to win against truly strong Top Players. You may wonder what’s different and ask others for help, but the problem is that you were so focused on “Winning Constantly” and “Winning Soon”, that you became satisfied with yourself while you were winning. Because of this, you became unable to do important training that is necessary for the future. You stopped searching for a superior winning pattern.
Ishikawa: That’s very interesting. Once they find a pattern, people have a general tendency to only notice things that match with that pattern; this is called “Cognitive Bias”. To put it simply, people tend to see only what they want to see.
Tokido: I see.
Ishikawa: (My head hurt trying to translate this so I’m skipping it. His point is just that the best scientists are able to remove their own bias when performing experiments to make sure the results are accurate.)
Tokido: “Am I lacking something?” or rather “Was I lacking something?”, that’s it. Once you find a winning pattern, you tend to think “With this I’ll be able to win for a little while” and relax.
Ishikawa: While watching your matches, I noticed something.
Tokido: Oh, what could it be!?
Ishikawa: You are very strong at the start of the match. But in the latter half, there are many times where you lose that momentum. I think this is not a problem of strategy, but rather a mental problem. In the beginning you focus too much, then in the latter half you become exhausted. I think you understand the method to make yourself focus, but you don’t know how to make yourself relax.
Tokido: It’s just as you say.
Ishikawa: Speaking of games, about how long does a match take?
Tokido: In the normal FT2 set, about 5 or 6 minutes.
Ishikawa: Even then, only about 4 or 5 minutes of that is actual playing time. If one is able to switch between “ON” and “OFF” during the break time in the match, they will be able to focus until the very end; but Tokido, I noticed you focus the entire time so you concentration power drops off in the latter half.
Tokido: Now that you say it, it’s true that I focus the entire time.
Ishikawa: Actually, there’s one more thing I noticed.
Tokido: What is it!?
「Pro-gamers are “Masters of Goal Setting”」
Ishikawa: I noticed this the other day when I was measuring your mental state while your playing.
Tokido: You’re talking about the glasses that measured Focus Power and Relaxation Levels, right? (They did an experiment earlier with Daigo where they wore glasses that measured things like Blinks, Eye Movement, Eye Speed, etc.)
Ishikawa: Even though you had the advantage, when your opponent did something unexpected and escaped, you would shake violently (laughing).
Tokido: It’s because I have a plan and when it doesn’t work out I get so disappointed with myself. “Even though I practiced so much, what am I doing…” Something like that.
Ishikawa: When things don’t go well, whether you put the blame on yourself or on something else has a big change of the outcome, doesn’t it.
Tokido: “During the match, don’t blame yourself for things” is something I’ve recently come to understand. You can always reflect and practice once the match is over.
Ishikawa: Because athletes and gamers have a very quick Winning and Losing cycle, they can quickly learn and improve through failure and adversity, but they can also quickly run into walls. If I had to say pro-gamers were masters of anything, then it would be “Masters of Goal Setting”. They don’t just play by habit, but rather in the span of a short match, they are constantly making goals that they must meet in order to improve.
Tokido: Certainly, the good point of games is that you can quickly find things then apply them in your next match.
Ishikawa: In comparison to that, for a Businessman to know if his work was good or bad, he must wait to hear feedback which takes time. Therefore, people tend to just get through their workdays just by habit rather than by setting goals. I’m the same way. Tokido, I think it’s amazing how you are able to win in multiple games as well as play one game for a long time- the amount of practice you do must be a lot.
Tokido: I play for 8 hours a day. If I had to say why I play this much, it’s because up until now I still have never been #1.
Ishikawa: Hm? What do you mean?
Tokido: In my mind, there has never been a moment where I thought, “I’m the best in the world!” No matter how many tournaments I win, somewhere in my heart there’s a side of me that is thinking, “The one who is actually strong is him.” I’m not satisfied at all.
Ishikawa: When did you notice the fact that you weren’t satisfied?
「Good, but not the Strongest」
Tokido: Rather recently. There is someone close to me that can confidently say “I’m the strongest.” It’s Umehara-san (laughing). When I came to understand Daigo’s mindset, I felt sad but at the same time I felt a very strong desire of, “I want to know what this sensation is like!”
Ishikawa: You were good, but not the best.
Tokido: Exactly. It was like, “Just because you win a lot of tournaments, doesn’t mean you’re strong.”
Ishikawa: Then the topic changes to, “What does it mean to be the Strongest?” Kind of like Miyamoto Musashi in Inoue Takehiko’s “Vagabond” manga.
Tokido: I have every volume (laughing). By the way, Umehara-san thought about this idea when he was 14 years old. 14 years old! I felt a sense of hopelessness. I thought, if I can’t surpass this person then there’s no way I can be the strongest.
Ishikawa: For the sake of becoming the strongest, did you change the way you practiced?
Tokido: Rather than just reflecting on matches, I began to realize the importance of discovering new things. Understanding the reason why you lost is simple. Even when you win, there are things to discover. Up until now, I wasted my time by being satisfied with my victories. These days, I’m putting great effort into discovering new things, even if they are small. Or bringing things back from the past and applying them today.
Ishikawa: In the Martial Art and Tea Ceremony world, there is a saying “Protect, Detach, Transcend”. First, you obey the teachings of your master, then break away from them, finally you separate yourself and stand on your own. Research is the same way, first you gain knowledge in your field, then you begin to solve problems. Then one day you are ready to proceed to the next stage and begin to think of your own questions. When you begin to think of your own questions, you are bound to make mistakes, but you are doing something no one else has done so this is the reason you must search for questions. This is your niche.
Tokido: This happens a lot in games as well.
Ishikawa: How should you make your questions? I think the guide to that will be your emotions. What do you think is interesting? What makes you feel anger? Delve deeper into those things is what I was taught at university in the West. At first I didn’t understand, but after all this time I’ve finally gotten the hang of finding questions in the emotions I encounter in my daily life.
Tokido: Why is it important to establish your own emotions as your base?
Ishikawa: Things that you are curious about are things that you will be able to research for a long time. If you do things just because no one else has done it, you will get tired of it along the way. Even in games, things that you find interesting you will be able to expand on and easily make new discoveries, right?
Tokido: I bet in just a single Daigo match there are a lot of things you notice.
Ishikawa: That’s right. Why are there so many things to notice? At the risk of being misunderstood, I think it’s because for Daigo, he has no interest in the immediate victory. His viewpoint is “What does it mean to be good at this game?”, therefore there are a lot of things to notice about his play.
Tokido: I understand what you’re saying.
Ishikawa: The moment when you notice something mysterious about the commonplace, you encounter a number of great questions. Like how Newton discovered gravity from the common act of apples falling straight down to the ground. In Street Fighter, there are various people thinking of various fighting styles. Relying only on their thoughts, they continue to come up with new ideas within the boundary of the game. Isn’t this the reason for playing games?
Tokido: Fighting Games all end up like this. As the players increase, so does the amount of knowledge shared. In order to win under this situation, you must think about a new and different strategy.
Ishikawa: In my last discussion, Shogi player Nakamura Taichi also said something similar. In Shogi, computer programs can search far and wide through various plays to find a new strategy and win. However, that play will only work once, and if all you do is rely on this style to win, then you will face a dilemma because you won’t be able to gain a strong sense of intuition or deep thinking power.
Tokido: I also had the same trouble before. In the past, I played a lot of games and had strategies for many different characters so I was able to win with my “wide and shallow” knowledge. In the early days, many tournaments were decided by Best of 1 matches, so I won many of my matches with surprise attacks or sneak attacks designed just to beat one specific opponent. However, luck is also a big factor in Best of 1 matches, and as I began to play more and run into the same people, I became unable to win. My lack of variety and knowledge was exposed as my weakpoint.
Ishikawa: But I think you’ve been a very strong thinker from the beginning.
Tokido: No, in the end I wasn’t thinking at all. My battle style was just my own pattern; I aimed just to hit my opponent and get a cheap win. I could win against people I could hit with my pattern, but I couldn’t win against those that I couldn’t. When my opponent was able to escape from this pattern I didn’t think about how to deal with it, I just kept pursuing a style that would be able to hit more people. In other words, it was like I was fighting against the computer the whole time, I never thought about my opponent’s mind. However, there will always be people who can escape your pattern, so you will always end up losing.
Ishikawa: Having a pattern that can beat many people is incredibly powerful, I think; but by solely chasing that pattern you ended up running into your limit. That’s a really interesting story.
Tokido: Yeah, after a long time, I finally noticed the problem. I thought, “What a shallow thing I’ve been doing…” and became disappointed with myself. On the other hand, even if Daigo found a winning pattern, he would immediately look for ways around it. Furthermore, if he had an idea, he would test it in an actual battle. Usually, it wouldn’t be successful…but he doesn’t fear failure.
「Rather Than Winning, Prioritize Deepening One’s Knowledge」
Ishikawa: Daigo would occasionally zone out for about 5 seconds after the start of a match. Why would he go through the trouble to do something so wasteful? It seems it’s because he wanted to know what he would feel when he got beat up by his opponent. More than playing to win, he was prioritizing deepening his own mental state.
Tokido: As a rule of thumb, I think if you do something because it’s interesting to you, you can eventually turn that into a strength.
Ishikawa: Even if you don’t understand why, for now just do it. In the research world, we say that if you pile up all your failures you’ll be able to find your discovery. Therefore, we have a culture where we value our failures. If you don’t fail, you’ll be able to pursue “Small Ideas”, but you won’t be able to chase after any “Big Ideas”.
Tokido: Speaking like that, then I am “Mr. Small Idea”, huh (laughing). The “Strongest” on the other hand, that’s a pretty “Big Idea”. I really do want to become the strongest.
Ishikawa: For that sake, then I guess you really need to think about what it means to be the strongest, and furthermore how can you prove that you are the strongest? At the present time, how do you define the strongest?
Tokido: I wonder, hmm… One thing I think about, is up until now I worried too much about the eyes of those around me; the eyes of those around the world. I thought if I won a lot of tournaments, those around me would view me as strong. But recently, I noticed that the ones close to me, the ones that I know well, have acknowledged me; I feel like this is one step closer to becoming the strongest.
Ishikawa: The ones looking at Tokido have changed.
Tokido: Yes, now I’m told “You played well” or “You were good”. Well, “Then what did you think about me up until now?” I want to say (laughing). Streaming and video technology has progressed, so now there’s gaming content with hundreds of thousands of people watching simultaneously. Now that we’ve finally entered the world of gaming, I want to pursue a way to make those watching enjoy themselves. If I simply just try to win, or just aim to put up results, then I feel like I would have contributed more to society by continuing along the path of an engineer or researcher after graduating college.
Ishikawa: I didn’t believe in myself as a gamer, so I ran away to my studies (laughing).
Tokido: (Unsure on the start) As for Japan’s pro-gamer scene, I’m truly glad that someone like Daigo is at the top. If it was just someone strong, or a short-sighted person, then we never would have come as far as we have.
Ishikawa: Recently, you can pull out your smart phone and play games anywhere, but there is the question “Are they playing games because they actually feel like playing games?” If they say “Yes”, then that’s great; but those that say “No”, why are they playing games? It may be that thinking about what they want to do is troublesome, so they decide just to kill time by playing games; that’s kind of sad, I feel. But then it’s also difficult for them to think “Do I really feel like playing games right now?”
Tokido: “What kind of person am I?” is such a fascinating thing to think about. Earlier, I said I wanted to become the strongest, but at the same time I also have the feeling of “If I achieve that goal, will I really be satisfied?” Is that really my goal, or am I just doing it because it’s a simple goal to chase?
Ishikawa: Youtubers and many other lifestyles are steadily increasing; the era of just following one straight path through life is over.
Tokido: We can’t choose the world we are born in; so it’s important for us come to terms with our feelings and desires.