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An Industry In Flux: Akira Yamaoka Speaks
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An Industry In Flux: Akira Yamaoka Speaks

October 8, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

Would you say that Grasshopper is a freer working environment for you than Konami was?

AY: Very much so, in terms of creativity and the sort of teamwork we have. It's very freestyle in that way. In Suda's mind, creativity comes first, then teamwork; after that is maintaining a playful environment. He's a very freewheeling guy.

A playful office environment, you mean?

AY: Right. For example, there's a studio-wide party every month, an opportunity for the designers and programmers to come together. Sometimes there are movie meet-ups; that sort of thing.

Is it to help with teambuilding, or to get everyone's thoughts out in the open?

AY: Right. Video games started out largely as one-man efforts in the very beginning, but now you have great big teams working on every one.

That's why it's all the more important that the members of a studio have good teamwork with each other; that they're on the same page with each other. Every team member is important in an environment like this.

It seems to me like Konami has fallen a great deal from its height, and I wonder if it's a problem with the structure of their company. What do you think?

AY: Well, I think you might be overthinking it a little bit when you talk about structure.

Well, not just Konami, but the whole of the Japanese industry.

AY: Certainly, I think there isn't as much motivation seen with the younger creators out there at the moment. There's little motivation, and there's little thought put into what they're making. It's become less of a creative process, and I don't think that's a good thing. Many publishers are like that; not just Konami.

Why do you think that situation happened?

AY: I think one part of it is that we -- our generation of creators -- we didn't do a good job educating the next generation of people in the business. We didn't teach them what they needed to know, how to go about it. So that's one aspect of it -- it's our fault a bit.

The sort of education you couldn't get in school.

AY: Right. How to make games, and how to build the teamwork you need to make that happen. There wasn't enough thought put into that.

A lot of Japanese games seem to lack inspiration. They just seem like products.

AY: Right, right. I'm starting to think that there isn't much of a future for Japanese creators. (laughs)

But there must be young people with talent right now who're interested in games. Does the future lie more with small developers like Grasshopper, Valhalla, and Platinum? That might be the next generation.

AY: I certainly think so, yes. But if our generation -- mine and Suda's generation -- doesn't work on that issue, then I worry that there won't be a next generation to work with at all. That's why we need to nurture new creative talent. You can feel it with the foreign staff in the industry -- they just have a more powerful personal presence than the newer generation of Japanese creators. They're very interesting, very inspirational, and very creative.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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