Shimpei Takahashi: Play this game to come up with original ideas
May 31, 2013
Shimpei Takahashi always dreamed of designing toys. But when he started work as a toy developer, he found that the pressure to use data as a starting point for design quashed his creativity. In this short, funny talk, Takahashi describes how he got his ideas flowing again, and shares a simple game anyone can play to generate new ideas. (In Japanese with English subtitles.)Shimpei Takahashi
- Toy designer
Shimpei Takahashi thinks we should forget about analyzing data or sales figures and just come up with ideas -- lots and lots of ideas. Full bio
Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
I'm a toy developer.
With a dream of creating new toys
that have never been seen before,
I began working at a toy company
nine years ago.
When I first started working there,
I proposed many new ideas
to my boss every day.
However, my boss always asked
if I had the data to prove it would sell,
and asked me to think of product
development after analyzing market data.
Data, data, data.
So I analyzed the market data
before thinking of a product.
However, I was unable to think
of anything new at that moment.
My ideas were unoriginal.
I wasn't getting any new ideas
and I grew tired of thinking.
It was so hard that I became this skinny.
You've all probably had
similar experiences and felt this way too.
Your boss was being difficult.
The data was difficult.
You become sick of thinking.
Now, I throw out the data.
It's my dream to create new toys.
And now, instead of data,
I'm using a game called Shiritori
to come up with new ideas.
I would like to introduce
this method today.
What is Shiritori?
Take apple, elephant
and trumpet, for example.
It's a game where
you take turns saying words
that start with the last letter
of the previous word.
It's the same in Japanese and English.
You can play Shiritori as you like:
"neko, kora, raibu, burashi," etc, etc.
[Cat, cola, concert, brush]
Many random words will come out.
You force those words to connect to what
you want to think of and form ideas.
In my case, for example,
since I want to think of toys,
what could a toy cat be?
A cat that lands after doing
a somersault from a high place?
How about a toy with cola?
A toy gun where you shoot cola
and get someone soaking wet?
Ridiculous ideas are okay.
The key is to keep them flowing.
The more ideas you produce, you're sure
to come up with some good ones, too.
A brush, for example.
Can we make a toothbrush into a toy?
We could combine
a toothbrush with a guitar and --
(Music noises) --
you've got a toy you can play with
while brushing your teeth.
Kids who don't like to brush
their teeth might begin to like it.
Can we make a hat into a toy?
How about something like a roulette game,
where you try the hat on one by one,
and then, when someone puts it on,
a scary alien breaks through the top
I wonder if there would be
a demand for this at parties?
Ideas that didn't come out while you stare
at the data will start to come out.
Actually, this bubble wrap,
which is used to pack fragile objects,
combined with a toy,
made Mugen Pop Pop,
a toy where you can pop
the bubbles as much as you like.
It was a big hit when it reached stores.
Data had nothing to do with its success.
Although it's only popping bubbles,
it's a great way to kill time,
so please pass this around
amongst yourselves today and play with it.
Anyway, you continue to come up with
Think up many trivial ideas, everyone.
If you base your ideas on data analysis
and know what you're aiming for,
you'll end up trying too hard,
and you can't produce new ideas.
Even if you know what your aim is,
think of ideas as freely as if you were
throwing darts with your eyes closed.
If you do this, you surely will hit
somewhere near the center.
At least one will.
That's the one you should choose.
If you do so, that idea will be in demand
and, moreover, it will be brand new.
That is how I think of new ideas.
It doesn't have to be Shiritori;
there are many different methods.
You just have to choose words at random.
You can flip through a dictionary
and choose words at random.
For example, you could look up two
random letters and gather the results
or go to the store
and connect product names
with what you want to think of.
The point is to gather random words,
not information from the category
you're thinking for.
If you do this, the ingredients for
the association of ideas are collected
and form connections
that will produce many ideas.
The greatest advantage to this method
is the continuous flow of images.
Because you're thinking
of one word after another,
the image of the previous word
is still with you.
That image will automatically
be related with future words.
Unconsciously, a concert will
be connected to a brush
and a roulette game
will be connected to a hat.
You wouldn't even realize it.
You can come up with ideas that
you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.
This method is, of course,
not just for toys.
You can collect ideas for books, apps,
events, and many other projects.
I hope you all try this method.
There are futures that are born from data.
However, using this silly game
I look forward to
the exciting future you will create,
a future you couldn't even imagine.
Thank you very much.
- Toy designer
Shimpei Takahashi thinks we should forget about analyzing data or sales figures and just come up with ideas -- lots and lots of ideas.Why you should listen
Shimpei Takahashi has developed many toys for Bandai, including the popular Mugen Puchi Puchi, a game that exploits the universal love of popping bubble wrap. The toy received the Grand Prize "Trendy Toy" Award from the Japan Toy Association.
In 2005, Takahashi invented a board game called Simpei, while he also works in the digital realm, having designed the social gaming app, Onedari Wanko (Fawning Puppy).
The original video is available on TED.com