Living in constant fear, paranoid of unceasing surveillance, forced remedial work, and a general lack of free will. If you thought I was just describing George Orwell’s 1984, you’d be mistaken. Instead, I am describing what Nikkei claims to be life working at Konami in Japan in a blistering report on the “game developer’s” working conditions.
Can we even call Konami a “game developer” anymore, anyway?
In the report, Nikkei’s claims are indeed serious. For all the grievances gamers have about the impending departure of Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima and the future of Silent Hill and other franchises, none of them come close to the allegations made here. Dating back to 2010, when Dragon Collection first introduced the little effort/huge reward mobile gaming mentality to Konami, the company has all but given up on console development.
We know this, and Nikkei touches on this, but the main complaints about its working conditions sound like an Orwellian novel of unpleasantry. Kotaku has described some of the highlights, which include:
- Kojima Productions has been renamed “Number 8 Production Team,” and its computers are not allowed to be connecd to the Internet for external communication.
- Employees are publically shamed when they take too long of a lunch break. Konami monitors them with time cards.
- Security cameras are used to monitor the movements of employees, not so much for security purposes.
- Employees are not allowed their own company email and must randomize their accounts every few months.
- Perhaps the most damning of the bunch, Konami will reassign developers who don’t meet their performance standards to other odd jobs like security guards and cleaning staff at the company’s fitness centers and pachinko parlors. Nikkei alleges that even well known developers have had to do this, not just junior staff.
- Konami monitors employees’ Facebook accounts and reshuffles those critical of their jobs. Nikkei alleges that it even reshuffles those who “Liked” the status of an employee excited for quitting.
Keep in mind that this is the alleged working conditions of Konami in Japan, where corporate culture can sometimes be domineering of its employees. There is nothing to suggest that this happens at Konami in North America.
However, you gotta wonder how many times a week complaints from Japan force its North American PR staff members to slap their foreheads in frustration. Does Konami reimburse for the aspirin? Probably not.
Orwellian working conditions. Morphing Castlevania into an “Erotic Violence” pachinko machine. Seriously Konami, what the heck is wrong with you? Do we need an intervention?