You talked about, earlier, how Japanese developers have a reputation of being very hard to work at. Obviously America has struggled with this too. You have a policy of quality of life, which has been a major issue, globally, for game developers.
I don't know if you were at the awards last night, but when they accepted the award for Fallout 3, the developer told the story that his wife went on vacation without him, with his kids, and said, "This had better be a really good game," when she left. So, it's the same everywhere. And it was a sad story.
I want you to talk about how that happened; what caused you to launch into this new philosophy?
HM: The reason is, I experienced back when I was CyberConnect 1, for three years I basically lived at work. I paid rent on an apartment that was empty; that I never lived at.
Because of the fact that I was an amateur entering into a world where there were other professionals working, I had to work three times as hard as everybody else -- and that was a reality that I couldn't escape: no matter how hard I pushed myself, there just wasn't enough time, because I didn't know the industry.
And so, I had to stay at work three times as long as everybody else. And so, I had that same reality, where I had no life -- no quality of life -- because of having to stay at work all the time. So I am very well acquainted with that whole idea of being enslaved by your company and not being able to go home.
So, true to the whole "living at work", literally: there was a kitchenette at work, and in the evening I would do as much as I could, and everybody would be working, and then they would go home, and then there would be nobody at work, just completely empty, and I was alone, by myself, working on things, because by the time evening came, there wasn't enough time during the day to finish what I wanted to finish.
So, I hadn't quite finished yet, and I was looking at what I had made, and wasn't satisfied, so I'm having to fix what I had done during the day. And I was looking at other people's stuff, and wasn't satisfied with what they had done either! So I was messing around and fixing the things that they had been making during the day. So I was there all night long.
But, what I would do is, I would stick my head under the warm water spout, and wash my hair in the kitchenette, and strip down and take a towel and take a sponge bath. And since there's nobody there, I can completely just take it all off. But that's just how I lived, day after day! And I lost a lot of weight.
Basically, I was able to take catnaps in a chair, right around when daybreak would start coming, and there's a little time to take a nap for a few hours, in a chair, at work -- and then work would start again. At the time, pulling all-nighters wasn't a big deal, because I was 26, but as the years and days progressed, I realized that the effectiveness of my work got lower, and lower, and lower.
Which is to be expected: as you're pulling all-nighter after all-nighter after all-nighter, you're going to end up not being able to work very well. And so, literally, my heart and my body was in ruins. I had worked my heart and my body to ruins.
And it's then that I realized, full well, that this is not healthy. And on top of that, my work is not efficient. And so I was forced to come to that realization because of my predicament.
Namco Bandai/CyberConnect2's .hack//G.U. vol. 1//Rebirth
And that's what changed your philosophy.
HM: So, the first reason for why I have such a philosophy is that staying up late every night, pulling all-nighters, reduces the effectiveness of one's work. I've realized that all too well myself.
The second reason is, these other nine people who have been working for Taito, when they started working at the company, they were working with the same rules that everyone else in the industry works: no one comes in in the morning. And so, I'm there, but no one else comes in in the morning.
There would be people who'd come in midday, people who would come in mid afternoon, and other people who would not come in until evening. People were working at different hours; they would come and they would go at different hours, and all day long there would just be kind-of a sluggish, slackish pace of work with everybody, because they just kind-of worked whenever they wanted.
And my thought was: why aren't people working when they're working? Why is there no rule? Why is there no direction? Why is there no establishment of 'outside hours are outside hours; work hours are work hours'? You work during work hours, and you're supposed to do your job.
There was no guidance, no rule, no establishment that basically forced people to have to sit down and say, "OK, it's work time, so let's work, and really get down to it." And so I realized, this isn't right; this isn't good; it's not effective for a company to operate under these circumstances.
There needs to be rules; there need to be guidelines on when people can be expected to show up at work, and when you're at work, do your work. So, do what you're there to do, and don't just drag it out all day and be sloppy or lazy with your work hours.
It also happened that the timing was really bad for that company, in that there was a super popular title that was popular worldwide, called Diablo, and people would just totally lose themselves in this game. They would roll into the office, you know, late morning, and they would play Diablo from morning to evening. Some of them would do some work, in the early part of the day when they came in, in the late morning, and then they would start lunch.
So they'd be eating lunch while they're playing Diablo, during their break -- but then the lunch break would progress, and they would still keep playing, and then the end of the break would approach, but they would still keep playing, and it's like there's no end!
They can't figure out where to put the game down. And so, before they know it, it's evening, and so now they're saying, "Oh, now I'm tired, so I'm gonna go home." So that kind of situation occurred more often than not.