Japan spoon feeds, U.S. says 'learn for yourself'

In a recent interview with Japanese website PingMag, illustrator Ken Taya described the differences between working for Japanese and American videogame companies.

Taya is a Nisei, the Japanese term for the first generation to be born outsie of Japan. He was once employed at Nintendo Software Technology, and worked on 1080 Avalanche. Now he is an environment artist at Bungie, where he most recently worked on Halo 3.

When asked about the differences between the two, he had much to say. In terms of game design:

"…when making colour choices, a Japanese designer alluded to the use of more unsaturated colours as a poor choice and clearly favoured more saturation. When working under non-Japanese designers, that same view was not held.

I think both sides see each others’ design choices in a slightly negative light, so when making personal choices in my design there is an inherent conflict between the two. It’s challenging to embrace these differences and I often have to remind myself that one choice is not better, just different."

"I feel that the Japanese game developers really focus on the feel of the game above everything else – and the US developers, the look."

Of the work environment:

"When working under Japanese management, I was much more spoon fed and there seemed to be a lot of hand holding. Under American supervision I was given much more freedom to make my own mistakes and learn from them. This difference can be interpreted in the following common terms I often hear regarding both styles: "The Japanese style is too anal, and the American style is too loose."

There you have it – the games industry’s East vs. West, in a nutshell.

So what’s better…anal or loose?  I think I’d have to go with anal, myself.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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