Inside a typical day for a Japanese game planner
Have you ever wondered what a typical day for people working in the Japanese game development industry looks like? Lucky for us, Tokyo-based Filipino-American content creator Paolo fromTOKYO gives his viewers a sneak peek into the said industry through his popular Japan Day in the Life series.
In one of his videos published a month ago, Paolo featured Tsuyoshi—a game planner at Capcom who has been working on Street Fighter 6 (SF6) for the last five years. Paolo followed Tsuyoshi from the time he woke up and got ready for office up until he finished his day. From meeting colleagues to observing their workflow, both Paolo and Tsuyoshi guided viewers through a typical day of a Japanese video game planner.
The Quirks of Working in Japan
Paolo fromTOKYO’s Japan Day in the Life series gives viewers an inside look at the Japanese working culture. In this case, Paolo unveils what Tsuyoshi deals with in his day-to-day life as a salaryman working in Japan.
Tsuyoshi came from Toyama and graduated from Tokyo but he eventually moved to Osaka to pursue his dream: working for a gaming company. Just like most people in Tokyo, Tsuyoshi lives in a 1DK apartment (with the ‘D’ and ‘K’ standing for Dining and Kitchen, respectively). But, unlike most people, he doesn’t commute because he simply walks to his office as he lives nearby.
According to the video, Capcom employees come from a variety of educational backgrounds which is further supported by the fact that another game planner besides Tsuyoshi had an economics degree. Despite that, everyone in Capcom loves video games with a passion, Tsuyoshi included.
Paolo and Tsuyoshi’s video shows some of the quirks that come along with working in Japan. In one instance, they exhibited the practice of giving an ‘omiyage‘ to one of his coworkers as he shared a snack with their UI designer. For the uninitiated, an omiyage is a gift, usually a small souvenir or snack, that is customary for a Japanese worker to offer to his colleagues as a token of appreciation for covering their workload when they went away for a quick holiday or short vacation.
The video also revealed some aspects of working at Capcom. Here’s some of it:
- As one can expect, their office is littered with Street Fighter memorabilia that ranged from posters, statue figurines, and even skateboard decks that featured the game’s characters.
- They have a sound studio where they record and edit sounds to be used for the game. The most surprising revelation of all was the SFX for character strikes were taken from swinging literal sticks around while the electric sounds for Blanka were made using just tape
- They have a Capcom employee-only cafeteria that serves a Capcom-themed menu, their own Starbucks, a Baskin-Robbins vending machine, and an honor system for the snacks (a.k.a. an honesty store).
- They host internal company tournaments regularly, with an SF6 tournament confirmed to be happening at the end of the year.
What does a game planner do?
So, what exactly does a game planner do? According to Paolo, it differs from a game designer despite the two job titles having more or less the same responsibilities. Apparently, in Japan, the ‘Designer’ title is granted to a person whose responsibility only revolves around visual aesthetics while a ‘Planner’ is involved in the entirety of the creation process. Thus, given how he’s involved in a lot of the game’s development process, Tsuyoshi is a game planner.
Some of Tsuyoshi’s responsibilities were exposed in the video. First, he starts his workday by checking on his emails and reading the gaming news. According to him, he reads the news to keep track of the current trends in the gaming industry in order to help predict future trends. After that, he then proceeded to check UI designs with his colleague, making sure everything is up to their standards, before moving on to testing the game himself wherein he used two controllers at once to test player 1 and player 2 simultaneously.
Tsuyoshi was also responsible for one of SF6’s newest features: the Battle Hub. Basically, the Battle Hub is an arcade game center within the game where players can virtually link up, chat, fight head to head, and even play classic Capcom titles.
“Back in the day, arcades in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka were crowded with people playing Street Fighter 2,” he shared on the video. “But I was living in the countryside so I couldn’t even experience it even though I wanted to. The idea [of the Battle Hub] was created from the experience I always wanted to have.”
Tsuyoshi’s other responsibilities scattered throughout the day include:
- Meeting with the batoru han (also known as the battle team)—a special ops-like team who are responsible for character skills, attributes, and everything related to battle details—as he consults them for scripts for battle commentary.
- Checking with their sound designer for the aforementioned commentary audio.
Near the end of his shift, he was challenged to a duel by one of his colleagues, specifically their music composer. Apparently, challenging your colleagues in a game happens frequently within the company and there’s no other option but to face the challenger. As for their duel, they ended in a tie which Tsuyoshi simply revealed happens sometimes.
By the end of the day, he wrapped it up by shopping for a gift for his friend at the Capcom store, getting a discounted bento for dinner, and relaxing at home for the rest of the night.
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