A Day in the Life of a Japanese Game Developer

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08:15 - The young Masa, 23 years old, wakes up; he works in Tokyo for one of the biggest gaming companies in Japan. He lives alone in a typical Japanese apartment, these apartments are known for their efficient use of space, that is, they are small. Like most Japanese, he does not bathe in the morning, even to avoid wasting time, he prefers to take it at night - the Japanese bathe not only to keep themselves clean, but also to relax, often in a hot tub. So, he washes his face, brushes his teeth, takes off his pajamas and gets dressed to go to work, a routine that takes no more than 10 minutes.

09:10 - He's already on his way to the train station so he can go to work - it's raining and Masa is using an umbrella. He arrives at the company around 9:50. Masa works for Bandai Namco studios, which is the entertainment division of the Bandai Namco group, a Japanese company famous for producing games like Tekken, Mario Kart and even Pac-man. The company has about 1,000 employees occupying 5 floors in a building in Tokyo.

Masa gets to work - he spends most of the day programming

Upon reaching the floor where Masa works, he hits his spot and goes to his desk, turns on his computer, takes off his shoes and puts on comfortable sandals.

Before starting to program, Masa checks his e-mail, as well as the company's internal social network, he does it all while eating something - his breakfast.

Next to Masa's desk there is a 'video games corner' where the staff keep some consoles such as: PS, Xbox, Switch and virtual reality glasses in addition to a powerful computer.

On the second floor is the employees' lounge. There are at least 4 bins for different types of garbage; it also has a pan of hot water and a microwave. There is also a snack corner and also a refrigerator with ice cream and other treats and any employee can take it since the products are replaced according to the amount being deposited at the cashier - the system used there is the 'take-pay' based in the honesty system. Would that work if it were here in Brazil?

The working environment is similar to that of any other company - we could imagine that because it is a game production company, we would have a Facebook, google style environment there, but this is not the case, were it not for the posters with the characters of the games and some other details we would not imagine that games are produced there.

Game and console library

On one of the company's floors there is also a library of electronic games and classic consoles, all you can imagine: Nintendo, PC Engine / TurboGrafx 16, Super Nintendo / SNES, SEGA Master System, SEGA Saturn, Family Computer… There are more than 3 shelves full of games (tapes and CDs) and consoles.

A day in the life of a Japanese game developer

Lunch time

12:00 - Masa goes out to lunch with her colleague -同期・どうき - who started working at the company at the same time as him. In fact, it is common for Japanese companies to make mass hires once a year from young graduates from Japanese universities.

“同期・どうき: someone who started working or studying at the same time as someone else. Ex: Students who graduate from different colleges, but start working at the same company at the same time. ”

In the building there is a cafeteria, and some food trucks come to the front of the building every day, but it is not always the same truck, it varies every day. The queue to be able to order is huge and with the rain and cold the situation is even less pleasant. But Masa says that he doesn’t always come to the food truck, sometimes he goes out to lunch or buys something at the nearest convenience store.

Question: Is this the only Bandai Namco office in Japan?

Response from Masa’s colleague: There are many (different) companies in the Bandai Namco group, so if you consider all the companies in the group, they are literally everywhere.

For lunch Masa ordered a bowl of roasted duck; before they eat Masa and her colleague join hands and say: いただきます… which means: let’s eat or thanks for the meal.

After they finish eating and just before going back to work Masa and her colleague go to a space with an arcade with their ’beloved Pac-Man’ - the screen is huge, bigger than them, and the controls seem to be very comfortable. Employees can play the games available there at any time for free.

'Code Vein'

13:00 - Masa returns to her desk and continues programming. Meanwhile, on another floor ... Apparently there are different teams working in different parts of the office; let’s talk to one of them:

- Excuse me, then, what is your role here? - I am the director and producer of code vein development that was released recently. - What is the code vein? - code vein is an action RPG with dramatic exploration with animated characters that are set in a dangerous cave. - Can you show me? - ah, the game? I’ll show you elsewhere After the console has been prepared and the game is loaded. - The main characters of the code vein are all Dracula, so you can customize your own Dracula. - Wow, the graphics are awesome ... How long did it take to develop the game? - Since planning ... it took, uh, about 5 years. - There was a time when we had 200 people working on the game’s development.

Even when the game is released the development is not yet complete, the game continues to be updated based on user comments and create new content to be downloaded.

It looks like a group is meeting, let’s go talk to them.

'Tekken 7'

- Hello, excuse me, can I ask you some questions? - ah, hello, of course ... - So, what are you working on? - We developed a game called Tekken 7 and I am the director of this game. - What are you doing right now? - Well, here we have content to download called ’season pass 3’ and we are checking it out. - Can I take a peek at what you are doing? - It’s a secret! (laughs)

Nearby there is a station with arcades with Tekken 7 where people test the characters and their functionality, this is a very important part of the job.

Some meetings and a break for a nap

14:00 - Masa is not working at his desk, he is participating in a ’scrum’ meeting - they do this meeting that lasts about 30 minutes every day, in the meeting they review what they had planned the day before, what needs to be done today and discuss problems that may arise, they use software to manage tasks and show everything on a screen during the meeting.

’Scrum’ is an ’agile methodology’ for management and planning of software projects. Projects are divided into monthly cycles called ’sprints’, the sprint represents a ’time box’ within the which set of activities to perform.

14:30 - Before going back to his desk and continuing to program, Masa, who is already a little tired, goes to the company’s rest area to take a nap… shortly afterwards he goes to the company’s drink machine - drinks are free -, there is tea, soda, juice.

17:00 - Afterwards, Masa goes to a second ’Scrum’ meeting - the one that takes place every two weeks they review the ’sprint’. The meeting room can be scheduled using a digital panel which makes everything more convenient.

18:00 - Now, he is finishing his tasks, checking e-mails he was unable to see during the meetings and writing a summary of everything he did today.

Masa will find his friends so he will be leaving work early. He’s hungry so he can’t wait to have dinner.

Masa is almost done with his work for today, then he will go out with some friends

19:07 - Masa is leaving, just over 8 hours later, but he says that sometimes he needs to stay and work overtime when he’s working on big projects. Overall this is a good thing. Japanese companies often require their employees to do a lot of overtime, which is never paid!

Masa meets with his friends to go to dinner: おつかれさまです - is used to greet co-workers; the literal translation would be something like: ’thanks for your work’.

Today is payday, and Friday, then, they will be able to relax a little more.

In Japan people usually order drinks on their own while sharing the food, in the end the group divides the bill into equal parts regardless of how much each person drank or ate; many restaurants allow their customers to smoke indoors - in bars ’居酒屋・いざかや’ it is common to see people smoking.

A day in the life of a Japanese game developer

In her spare time Masa assembles GUNDAM dolls, watched videos on YouTube and plays

21:30 - Masa says goodbye to his friends and goes to the subway station so he can go home. Even after work, the place where Masa spends the most time is on the computer. He says that during his free time he likes to play and do other things.

- Masa, did you watch YouTube? - Yes, recently I have been watching this channel about GUNDAM ・ガンダム that SUNRISE launched. I can spend all day watching GUNDAM. It is possible to see several GUNDAM boxes and dolls in the apartment.

- What are you going to do for the rest of the night? - I’m going to assemble a GUNDAM doll until it’s time to go to bed, there are several dolls I haven’t assembled yet, today I’m going to assemble this one - model: MS-06R-2 JOHNNY RIDDEN’S ZAKUII.

So, it seems that Masa will spend a few hours assembling the GUNDAM doll, he should go until about midnight, that’s it, that was a day in the life of a Japanese programmer.

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