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Toshihiro Kondo (近藤季洋(こんどう としひろ)) is the current president of Nihon Falcom.

Background

Toshiro Kondo was born on January 14th, 1975 in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. His father was working for a company associated with Toyota Motor Corporation. [1]

Childhood

As a child, he almost drowned in a local river, so his parents decided to send him to swimming school around the age of 7, 8. The bus line that ran from his parents' house in the middle of rice fields to his swimming school stopped at a arcade with Space Invader cabinets. He came there daily to practice. That is how his interest into games developed.[1]

He wasn't given pocket change to spend on arcades, so instead he waited around the arcade for someone to leave the place without finishing the game. Then Kondo would take over and finish the game. At school he wrote an essay that he wanted to run an arcade as an adult.[1]

His parents were strict in not wanting to buy him a home console, so he played a lot of games at friends' place, who was five years older. Kondo played a lot of games like Breakout that way. Every six months, his family would go on a trip to a wellness resort owned by his father's company. There he would play games for 10 yen per run to the extent he would dream of the games in his sleep.[1]

Bangkok

Around the age of 12, they had to move abroad for his father's work to Bangkok, Thailand. His parents had realised Kondo's love for games and bought him a Famicom. They agreed on a rule that he would spend no more on either video games or watching TV per day.[1]

Until the age of 13, 14, he went to a local Japanese school in Thailand. Everyone in his class gathered news on their homeland, like newspapers clippings stating the popularity of a new game series called Ys. He primarily consulted his local Tokyo-dou Shoten, a Japanese retail book store chain, for incoming magazines that featured games.

Since he was unable to verify the authenticity of gaming goods in Bangkok and imported games were expensive at 1.5 to 2 times the Japanese retail price, Kondo asked his aunt to buy him the games and requested one of his father's colleagues to pick up the game for him. This way he managed to get a new game every half a year, meaning he explored every nook and cranny of the games and drew maps for each and every one of them. He has particular fond memories of playing Dragon Quest and asked his aunt for a copy of its sequel, but it was hard to find even in Japan at the time and he would had to wait another half year until his copy of Dragon Quest II arrived. He also loved Final Fantasy, to which his interest was drawn through an article in the Family Computer Magazine.

The first Falcom game he had first-hand experience with, was Ys III: Wanderers of Ys at a friend's place when he had returned to Japan at the age of 14, 15. As a console game, he was surprised by the graphics and music of the game, but it was too hard for him.

University

Kondo studied finance at the Doshisha University. During his time as a student, he developed a Falcom fan website and hoped it to serve as a platform for fellow fans that together could potentially reach out to Falcom. He realised that working for Falcom might have not been a pipe-dream all along, he applied for a position with the accounting division at Falcom. There he learnt that they already knew about him through his fan website and, as the only potential employee with knowledge of the Internet, Falcom hired Kondo to maintaining and handling the company server in April 1998.[2]

Early career

From that position, he started making websites for Falcom's games. In order to address all aspects of the game, he started playing the games still in development and offers his own feedback and ideas to the development team about what could be potentially improve the games. Over time, his involvement with the development time increased to the degree he was requested to write for the games. After juggling between his two jobs within the company, he was promoted to executive.[2]

After the company split in 2001, he was transferred to the new game-focused division. In September 2005, Kondo was promoted to section chief of the committee responsible for drafting scenarios. In December 2006, he assumed office as director of the scenario draft committee.

Presidency

When then-president and founder of Falcom, Masayuki Kato, stepped down on July 11th 2007, he asked Kondo to succeed him.[2]

Trivia

  • Toshihiro Kondo's favourite game is Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. His favourite game prior to joining Falcom was The Legend of Heroes III: Shiroki Majo, to which he initially dedicated his fan website.
  • Another famous alumnus from Doshisha University is Gunpei Yoko, inventor of e.g. the Game Boy at Nintendo.
  • Kondo's relatives still joke over his ambition to become an arcade manager whenever they gather as a family.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 https://www.gamebusiness.jp/article/2015/07/15/11149.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Allen, Robert. Tech-Gaming. July 1st, 2017. <http://www.tech-gaming.com/nihon-falcom/>

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