A while back, I wrote a piece comparing and contrasting how the work place was represented in New Game! and Re: Life. Although I greatly enjoyed New Game!, I found Aoba’s experience to be a little unrealistic, and thought that Re: Life more accurately portrayed the negatives of working life. However, I live in North American and am used to how Western businesses work- I really have no idea how things are in Japan.
Fortunately, I came across an article on Crunchyroll that gave in-depth answers about the gaming industry in Japan by interviewing M. Ian Graham, who currently lives in Japan and works as a game developer.
My Reaction and Summary
I found this article to be very informative and helpful. It sheds some light on Eastern business practices and helps me understand and appreciate New Game! more.
One thing I was skeptical about was how Aoba got hired by a gaming company directly out of high school. As someone who lives in America, I was incredulous- you need a ridiculous amount of experience to get any decent (or not so decent) job. But Ian explains that Aoba getting hired is a possibility. Like anywhere in the world, credentials are important. However, since Aoba’s job is art-based, her drawing skills and artwork are going to be considered more than her lack of experience. The interview says that getting hired right out of high school is still rare in Japan, but not unheard of.
Another issue that fans and myself debated was how Aoba was told to make 3D models from scratch, even though she had never done so before. Many fans did not believe that the company would allow her to do this right away. According to Ian, training like this is standard practice in Japan, even outside of the gaming industry. Companies do this because they want employees to know the fundamentals. Taking the time to train someone will help them learn the necessary skills and stay with the company on a long term basis.
In my opinion, this is a good thing. From my experience, Western companies don’t train their employees very well. It takes up too much time and too many resources. At my first retail job, I was thrown on the cash register with no training and was often left alone in my section for hours on end with no one to teach me the basics of ringing, returns, online orders, layaway, etc. I learned it eventually, but some guidance would have been nice. I definitely would have felt more appreciated. And this just doesn’t go for retail. The same thing has happened to me numerous times, including during my first “real” job.
I also want to point that that many companies seem to not hire for the long term. They barely train you, give you minimal hours, and can let you go whenever they want (i.e. sending the jobs to another country). Having some job security would be wonderful. I wouldn’t get anxiety over whether or not I am going to have health insurance (do NOT get me started on health insurance in the USA!) or enough money to support myself.
Now for some negatives. One of the recurring themes in New Game! was how the employees needed to stay overnight to finish up their work before the deadline. And apparently New Game! glossed this over. People in the gaming industry regularly spend long periods of time staying over at work, even when a deadline isn’t near. I have heard many times how the balance between work life and personal time is very difficult to maintain in Japan. People are expected to work long hours and devote themselves completely to their jobs. As much as I would love to live in Japan, this is something that worries me if I were to ever move there. I need time to rest and relax- otherwise my anxiety begins to build up. Anyway, another issue with the workplace, according to Ian, is that the management practices are very antiquated. This concerns me as well because, based on my experience, the way things are managed in America are not effective and this goes for most of the jobs I’ve had. But Japan is even more outdated than the US? It is scary to think about…
Even before reading this article, there was one thing that I found very unrealistic in New Game! and Ian says it perfectly: “There are no assholes.” You are always going to meet amazing and supportive people throughout your career, but you are also going to run into an equivalent amount of jerks. Aside from Umiko who was a little rough around the edges, everyone in New Game! was extremely nice. Almost too nice. There is almost always going to be someone who is competitive, envious, and derogatory toward others. Especially the higher-ups, who expect everything to be done perfectly and in a timely manner (even though they didn’t properly train you!). Sorry, I am being biased based on my experiences. However, I am sure this is true in Japan as well, and Ian helped to confirm my belief by saying that there is going to be at least some people who make your blood boil and are difficult to work with. I would love to see Aoba get some kind of rival- it would be both interesting and funny.
Again, this article was extremely thorough and helped me get a better picture of how the gaming industry works in Japan. Although it definitely sugarcoats some things with its all-female moe cast, according to Ian, New Game! does do a good job of portraying Japanese gaming companies. And apparently things really do run that way.
What did you think of the original article? Do you agree with my reactions? How has your working experience been? What did you think of New Game! and the how things are run in Japan? Comment below!