I might never have got into the stranger's taxi if it weren't for video games. It was September and, earlier that evening, I'd met a journalist friend who lives in Japan for a catch-up drink. He took me to a themed Irish pub just off Shibuya crossing, the sort of establishment you'd never darken in Spain, but which, when transported to Tokyo, is transformed from blight to curio. The place didn't disappoint. Everything was slightly off: We drank pints of Guinness, each one laced with a shot of red wine. American sports blared on the overhead TVs. Most implausibly of all, one tidy queue trailed up to the bar: Dublin through a glass darkly. We caught up. Finally, we said goodnight. It was still early, the Autumn air muggy and electric. I muffled my ears with headphones and began to walk around Shibuya. And then I met Brad.
Shooter. Racer. Fighter. Platformer. Farming simulator. Games, the grand majority of the time, are about actions. We run and jump and kill and collect. We conquer entire worlds - sometimes in the span of an afternoon - with their wondrous works of architecture and natural beauty flying by in a blur of blood, guts and glittering prizes.
It's hard to think back to a time when the all-consuming success of Nintendo's DS was in any doubt. But, as with so many new and different things, videogame consumers at first struggled to put their faith in what appeared to be an unfocused hotchpotch of whimsical design ideas.
Shibuya, arguably Tokyo's most iconic futuristic geography, fizzes with neon hairdos and mini-skirt vitality. With its distinctive train station and the interminably busy Scramble Crossing, it's a location that has played host to videogames before. But while Jet Set Radio picked these broad streets as much for the gameplay-facilitating multi-tiered architecture as anything else, Square-Enix's forthcoming DS action RPG, Subarashiki Kono Sekai is out to jump on its carefree joie-de-vivre.