Another Gamasutra article today, this time one talking about the kind of dangers the Japanese gaming market is in. What’s interesting about this article is that it squares the blame on the culture. Their need to play catch-up with your superiors, their need to earn the salary and work hard but not necessarily be innovative. One part of the article even stated that while in the west that game development focused more on the individual, in Japan it was more about the company.
Another thing that was interesting was that in the comments for this article, people wondered that if the creative side of the industry was in such peril, then where do all the Miyamotos and the Suda 51s come from? Clearly very creative things are coming out of Japan but how can that be if everyone has this sort of “don’t leave before your boss” mentality.
My guess is that in Japan, these people are the masters and have free reign to be creative while in America and the west, everyone has an idea. A short while ago I posted a video interview for Fable: The Journey, and in it the interviewee stated that one thing their studio did was let everyone who worked in the office come up with and develop an idea for the game. It didn’t matter what position they had, whether they were a programmer, artist, or even janitor, they seemed to have the philosophy that everyone has a good idea. Double Fine studios did a similar thing and it may have saved them from closing down, so there is some merit to this. At the same time, I think that puts a lot of risk and wastes a lot of time if the idea is bad. One thing I’ve learned, just from my own experience creating games, is that my early games where I thought I had a good idea, I had to build it, test it, and then, more often than not, salvage what ever I could from it when the idea turned out to be bad. As I learned more and more about game design from either experience or books, I can layout in my head mechanics that I know will work, and time testing is spent tweaking and refining, usually by adding rather than just trying to pick out what works and what didn’t. So there most likely is some sort of balance that needs to be met, from both east and west, and according to this article, the Japanese gaming industry needs it more than ever.