Hometown – Kashiwa, Japan
Personal Cars – 2005 Ford GT, Honda S2000, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V, Porsche GT3, Nissan 350Z, Mercedes AMG SL55.
Since he was three years old, Kazunori Yamauchi has had a fascination with cars. It was not until he was 15 years old, when he began building the original concept forGran Turismo. When reflecting back, Yamauchi states, I feel very lucky to be able to create a driving game that can capture the emotion and true-feel of automobiles from around the world in unique and well-known locales.
Since the inception of the Gran Turismo franchise, Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital have revolutionized the racing category as we know it today. His offerings provide the gamer with the most true-to-life driving simulation within the industry and a unique medium for automobile manufacturers to showcase their products. In Motor Trend Magazine’s February 2005, 2006 and 2007 issue, Yamauchi was selected among the top 50 most powerful people in the automotive industry. In the January 2006 issue of the UK’s popular Car Magazine, Yamauchi was selected as the most powerful man in the industry. Details Magazine included him in its Top 40 under 40 feature. When commenting on Gran Turismo, Newsweek stated in its March 10, 2003 issue, Games like GT3 are turning millions of couch potatoes into living-room racers…becoming the new virtual showroom and design studio for automakers.
Through the Gran Turismo franchise, one can clearly see that Yamauchi is a great fan of cars and motorsports. Currently, Yamauchi owns a 2005 Ford GT, Honda S2000, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V, Porsche GT3, Nissan 350Z and a Mercedes AMG SL55. Often, one may find Yamauchi racing leisurely at the Twin Ring Motegi race track outside of Tokyo. The track at Motegi was also the testing ground for many of the cars featured in the Gran Turismo offerings.
In 1993, Yamauchi began his career in the game industry, the same year Sony Computer Entertainment was established. At that time, Yamauchi’s role was to create games for the new PlayStation game console, to be released in Japan the following year. Since 1993, Yamauchi has created Motortoon Grand Prix (one of the Japanese PlayStation launch titles in 1994), Motortoon Grand Prix 2 (1996), Gran Turismo (1997), Omega Boost (1999), Gran Turismo 2 (1999), Gran Turismo 3 (2001) Gran Turismo Concept (Japanese/European release), Gran Turismo 4 Prologue (Japanese/European release), Gran Turismo 4 (2005), Tourist Trophy (2006), Gran Turismo HD Concept (2006).
Growing up in the city of Kashiwa, Japan in Chiba prefecture, Yamauchi was a role model school boy who dreamed of becoming an astronaut. At the time, he was interested in the motion picture industry and in Junior High School, he established a movie production group, making one film a year. At one point, he wished he could create a movie like Star Wars. Yamauchi adds that Japan’s gaming industry is similar to Hollywood in the film industry.
As Yamauchi proceeded to High School, he explains that he was no longer the cream of the crop. In his years at University School, Yamauchi built his skills in graphic design, participating in part time jobs in preparing presentation materials for car manufacturers.
Nearly 10 years ago, Yamauchi began the Gran Turismo franchise with four people. Today, he is President of Polyphony Digital, which is comprised of more than 70 members, encompassing programmers, designers, artists and more. Yamauchi’s main responsibility is for the core game design and balancing of concepts, however, he has an ongoing open forum for suggestions from his team members that often can result in game design plans. The name ‘Polyphony’ is meant to suggest a place for polyphonic people and for their voices to mix with one another. Currently, Yamauchi and team are now preparing for the upcoming release of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue for Playstation 3.