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“Compliance and Labor” – Sakurai’s Famitsu Column, Vol. 542

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Compliance and Labor Vol. 542

In the game industry, there’s a lot of overtime, all-nighters, and coming in on holidays! It’s a practice that has been occurring for a long time. That suddenly changed in recent years, though.


Actually, if you look at other companies and even myself, 10:00 p.m. is when everyone goes home. Or rather, maybe we’re getting shut out? I go to work at 10:00 a.m., so I usually spend about 10 hours working each day. In the past, it wasn’t that uncommon to work until 1 or 2 in the morning so compared to those days, I’m taking it easy.


Why is this now the case, you ask? Compliance. In other words, companies are placing increased importance on following rules and regulations! Nowadays, this is happening at a lot of game companies too.


I think this is mainly to make sure that employees and contract workers aren’t working over 45 hours of overtime a month. This is because of “Article 36.” So even if a person wanted to, if they go over the set working hours, there could be an investigation for not following the Labor Standards Act. If this happens, it damages the image of the company. It’s recommended that work gets wrapped up early, and if the rules aren’t followed, you could be punished.


I’m a freelancer, so I don’t have regulations relating to overtime and my time isn’t managed by someone else, but I head home when the office closes.


When it comes to how to do a job, it’s best to be rational and not wasteful. The time a single person works in a day can be reduced, and the workload can be shared with someone else. More people should be hired instead of paying the relatively high overtime rates. This would get more man-hours in return for the same cost. It’s logical. At least for a regular job.


However, making a game is technical work and there are a lot of instances where replacing someone isn’t effective.


For example, if someone has a unique style or is really good at their job, they can’t just be replaced by someone else, no matter how hard that person may try. The person who is the main driving force behind a game pushes the project forward with their ideas and work and plays a big role in creating the game’s individuality. If jobs based on that unique talent were passed around between different people, in the long run games would start to become indistinguishable. There are already instances of this starting to happen. In other words, if you’re making a game as if it were a manufactured product, then it’s not going to be made like a piece of art!


If the key person behind a project wants to continue working on something to their heart’s content, then it’s always going to take more time. As this happens, it starts to lose its freshness and the game might miss its release date. The risk of something similar getting released rises, money starts to run out, and motivation drops. Development might even come to a standstill.


When it comes down to it, the law is the law. That isn’t something that can be changed so I think it’s best not to think about it. The problem is how to continue making high quality things despite that. Of course, things that can easily be done are probably being done everywhere, but you can’t just rely on the existence of exceptional staff. If it’s a job that can’t be done by a small number of people, then improving the environment and everyone’s abilities are the only solutions that really come to mind. In other words, raising efficiency.


But even that is difficult! Especially because there are many ways to sharpen one’s core skills. For example, I think opportunities to see the latest games while at the office have become almost nonexistent. Back in the day, everyone at the company could come together after the core working hours had ended and take a look at the latest games, but that doesn’t really happen anymore. Time for doing anything other than the job itself is decreasing. Many people now have to look at the quality of the latest games at home, on their own time.


I think it’s best to value time spent with your hobbies, and use it as fuel to create good things. What say you?


one comment
  1. When was the original article published in Famtisu? Can we include this info somewhere please?

    nicklip on May 5 |