We love SNK, that’s a fact. And it seems that SNK supremos (thankfully) love talking to us! Adrian and Anthony caught up with the legendary company’s community manager Jonathan Campana, a man whose job is to build bridges between SNK gamers and developers to further the entire experience. It’s a fascinating role and one which Jonathan is ploughing head-first into as you’ll find out in this quick chat! If you’ve got any questions for Jon please contact him on Twitter or follow him on Twitch.
Please tell us a little about yourself and how you started off in the video game industry.
My name is Jonathan but people on the internet call me KrispyKaiser or KK for short. I’ve always been an avid gamer, but ever since I was a young lad, I really wanted to enjoy the forbidden fruit that is Japan-exclusive games. I decided at around age 19 to study moonspeak, and after 3 years in an intensive language school in Osaka, I ultimately decided to pursue college full-time in Japan.
During my time as a student, I became fascinated with the indie-game scene here, and I would often volunteer my time to help out at both Bitsummit and TGS. I even ended up writing my graduation thesis based around the concept of learning language though games.
Eventually though, graduation came, and I had to look for a job. Up to that point, I had been streaming heavily for the past 3 years, but I had to put that aside in hopes to find employment. The stars aligned and one day and I noticed that SNK, yes, the Shin Nihon Kikaku was looking for a community manager position to be filled. I applied right away and by the grace of God I was given the job.
So, yeah! I’m a newbie to the scene! I’ve always been on the outside looking in, and now I finally see what it’s like on the other side.
Was this your first role within the video game industry?
Indeed, this is my first time working for the industry. Wait, does Chuck. E. Cheese count?
We’d probably say no, lol! What is your daily routine like and what projects have you been involved in?
It’s certainly changed a bit since I got here. At first, I spent most my days playing through all the titles I missed out on growing up all while getting acclimated to their communication systems. There was certainly a lot to digest, but now I’ve mostly gotten used to it.
I have a couple jobs at the moment. One is, of course, being a community manager, which I do by acting as a messenger for the user base. I take their questions, comments, and concerns, make sure they arrive in the hands of the dev team all nice and translated.
At the same time, I make tutorial videos for people new to fighting games, translate documents and interviews, and I’m even working on making new, unique content that I guarantee you nobody has seen. It’s my first stab at something like this, so I’m really going to rely on the community for support and guidance as we build this thing up together.
Has working with SNK met your expectations on what you anticipated so far and were you a fan of the company and their games before you joined?
I’ve always been a fan of SNK, but growing up as an only child, I found myself attracted to their platformers and beat ’em ups rather than their rich fighting game selection. Metal Slug, Mutation Nation, and Top Hunter have a special place in my heart.
Part of your role is to get the voice of SNK gamers to the developers. How do you aim to bridge the gap between your company’s consumers and developers?
I do this by being as open and transparent as possible. I’m on Discord, Reddit, Twitch, and Twitter, and I keep my DMs open for anyone to message me. I also like going directly into twitch streams to hear opinions directly.
Which platforms do you aim to communicate best to the SNK community?
This is a hard question. We’re thinking of doing community-focused streams, but I’m still trying to iron out the logistics.
Can you describe the most common request or idea from SNK gamers share with you to pass on to the developers of SNK?
People really want to see classic titles ported to the PC in a way that rivals when they were on console.
I’d like to see that happen too, and though we have the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection (which if you haven’t picked it up yet, I highly suggest doing so. It has Ozma Wars FFS!) there are still more games that need to be on there and other platforms.
Arcade games are on the rise again, and there’s no better time to get cracking on this.
What is the oddest request or piece of communication you have received from a member of the SNK community?
Someone asked me once if Galford actually slept with Nakoruru. (… – Ed)
You’re are a prominent Twitch streamer. Is that in relation to your work at SNK or is it a personal endeavour?
“Prominent” is an extremely generous way to put it! But yeah, community building and streaming was my life for a hot moment, but unfortunately life (finding a job, having a baby, moving) made all that really difficult. I’m excited to get back into streaming and talking with the community again, though!
What types of game can we expect to see you stream there?
At this point in time, I don’t have any plans to stream on my main channel. This is for two reasons: 1. I don’t have internet at home. (Our previous provider took us to the cleaners) And 2. I come home at around 7-8PM, and then it’s my turn to take care of the babby so my wife can rest.
The plan at this moment is to set up streaming/content production here at SNK, and when I have time in the future, do some streams on my down time. I generally like to play text-heavy RPGs (SMT, Persona, etc) in Japanese and translate to English on the fly. It’s my way of studying, I guess.
How different is the gaming culture there in Japan compared to the US?
It doesn’t take much to say that the gaming culture here is really different. PC gaming is essentially non-existent, and mobile games are king.
It is often perceived that Japanese video gamers are extremely competitive in competitions such as EVO Japan. Are Japanese gamers as passionate and hardcore as they are made out to be in the west?
They are, but not for the most obvious reasons. In the states, attending a local is almost a weekly affair. But here in Japan, the locals are at the arcades, and most gamers go there everyday to practice. Many arcades here have a rich history of people who have been playing these games seriously for 30+ years. It’s hard not to be inspired to play better when everyone around you is your senpai and is willing to help you learn.
Have you been involved in or hope to take part in any Japanese video game tournaments?
I’m up for the challenge, sure! I’m pretty sure I’ll get my shit slapped, though.
Can you list your top 3 SNK games and series and explain why?
For me personally it would be Metal Slug 3, Top Hunter, and SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS.
Metal Slug 3: What is there to say, really. This game is a masterpiece.
Top Hunter: I know, it’s easy. But it’s a fun game. The music and art are stunning and it’s just one of those gems you have to play once in your life.
SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS: This game got me interested in card-based fighters. At the time I had no idea who most of the characters were, but it was a really fun and unique game that I played waaaay back when I was young. I still think about it time to time. It’d be nice to see another SNK card fighter, but perhaps the market is saturated with them by now.
As an employee at SNK in Japan and part of the video game industry, what advice would you give to anyone looking to enter the video game industry?
Think hard about your ideas because what you think may be good for the company may actually be disastrous. The people here have been around the block a few times and generally know what they’re talking about. It’s best to lay low, learn, and present your ideas based around a lot of solid reasoning. It’s easy to let emotions take the wheel, but just calm down and learn from your superiors.
What are your three favourite video games of all time?
Phantasy Star Online, Digimon World, Vandal Hearts.
PSO: Come ON. This is -the- greatest action-based MMO ever made. It’s a classic. I still listen to the OST every other week. I really, really love this game. The aesthetics, the art direction, it’s just so god damn cool. If I could upload myself into a game, this would be it.
Digimon World: This game blew my god damn mind as a kid. That opening FMV was the most hype shit, and the atmosphere and gameplay was stunning. I must say though, Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode did an excellent job building upon the original game. It pretty much surpasses the OG one in all departments EXCEPT in music.
Vandal Hearts: I like me some good tactics games, but Vandal Hearts for the PSX took me by the hand and made me a MAN. Each battle tests the shit out of you, and I always somehow managed to survive by the skin of my teeth.
If you could share a few drinks with a video game character, who would choose and why?
Stephen from SMT so I can pick his brain on what the meaning of life is.
Adrian & Anthony