Athletics and Recreation

Day in the Life of a Japanese Game Programmer

Day in the Life of a Japanese Game Programmer

This is a Day in a Life of a Japanese Game Programmer. This is Masa. 23 year old programmer living in Tokyo and working for one of the largest video game companies in Japan. And this is how he starts his workday. He lives alone in a typical Japanese apartment. Which are known for their efficient use of space like this enclosed unit bath with built-in sink facilities. Masa, how long does it take for you to get ready for work? Like most salaryman in Tokyo, he commutes to work by train, door-to-door about 40 minutes, so it’s not bad. But, more than half of his trip is walking to and from the train station. Not pleasant on rainy days like this. Alright, so Masa should be coming soon, but the typhoons these months have been really, really crazy. Dang! Look! The trains are super packed! Crazy typhoon, right? So, Masa works for Bandai Namco Studios, which is the network entertainment unit of Bandai Namco group. They’re known for developing popular game paddles like Tekken, Mario Kart, and even Pac-Man. And, there’s about a thousand employees in the Tokyo office spread across five floors. That’s his digital timecard. He’s officially clocked in now. Also, common in many Japanese companies is for employees to change into slippers for the work day. So, this is Masa’s office. Very common Japanese tile-desk with low dividers. So, Masa keeps his desk area simple like many of his coworkers. It’s very different when compared to Western desks which are often littered with decorations and family pictures. First thing in the morning, he checks his email as well as the internal company’s social network for updates, while also having a quick breakfast. Masa, where did you buy a juice? What is that? So, Masa is doing his morning task right now. It’s gonna be some time before he has kind of like a break, because he’s pretty focused. So, let’s go walk around the office and see what kind of facilities they have! So, right behind Masa’s desk, they have a game corner kind of placed right here. And they have the Switch, they have the PlayStation, they have Xbox, and they even have some virtual reality gear! I guess you get to play games anytime you want which is pretty cool! Wow! And just below here, there’s a big, big computer! I think it’s an alienware computer. Looks like one powerful machine. All right, so this is the break room area on the second floor. Let’s see what they have! Separate all of the trash. They have burnables, you have the cans, and the bottles and you also have the non-burnables like plastic. They have a hot water pot and microwave. So, this behind me is their snack corner but it runs on the honor system. So, basically at the top, you have a place where you deposit money. All the different chocolates or candies, they have a price for it. And even the refrigerator has the frozen treats like ice cream and whatnot. And you just need to pay on the honor system. And then you take what you actually paid for. I don’t know how would this do in your country’s office? All right, and so, let’s check what’s down here. So, this place says library, but in fact, it’s not a library of books! It’s a library of games! Check this out! So, they have all these different consoles all the way from like Nintendo to PC Engine. I don’t even know what it is. An original NES here. Gamecube. An original Sega. Sega Saturn. Even a Family Computer. They have like every single game ever! And it’s not just in this aisle! They have this aisle and they have this aisle. And then they have this aisle but… But this aisle actually looks like books. They even have all kinds of game cartridges from back-in-the-day. Nintendo DS. They even have like a baseball game. Sim City. I wonder how many years it would take to play all of these games. What’s your favorite old-school console? Because I’m sure they probably have it here. So, this area here is their administration section of the office. It’s kind of like the business side of the company. And this behind me is where all of the executives stay. So, this area is a lot nicer than the common area. But as you can see, the office are fairly reasonable. The president’s room is fairly the same size as the other executives. Finally! Lunch Time! So, he’s Masa’s Douki, which means the co-worker who started working at the company at the same time. In fact, it’s common for many Japanese companies to do mass hiring once-a-year for college graduates. Just outside this dope cafeteria, food trucks come during lunch time. Apparently, the trucks vary each day. But damn, it doesn’t look like a pleasant experience waiting in line during this typhoon. Masa, do you always eat here? So, is this the only office in Japan? That’s a decent option for lunch! Itadakimasu is a customary term used by Japanese before each meal. Meaning: “Let’s Eat.” or “Thank you for the Meal!” Looks like they have a little time before their lunch break finishes. I wonder where they’re going. What is that? Oh wow! They take their Pac-Man serious here! And like all the games here, it’s also free-to-play anytime. Masa, so what are you doing now? So, kinda got some free time while Masa is working. So, why don’t we spend this time and maybe go meet some people. So, apparently, they have all their different teams working in different parts of the office. We’re actually on a different floor right now. Excuse me. So, what kind of work do you do? What’s Code Vein? So, Code Vein is a dramatic, exploration, action RPG. With animated-out characters in a challenging and dangerous dungeon environment. So, can you show me? I think he was ready to show it. He want the game right now. But, he’s just asking some of those guys to prepare the game for me and they’re gonna put it on the screen. So yeah, I’m kind of excited to see what kind of game it is. Wow, this is an attractive looking game. How long did it take to develop this game? He also said that at one time, there was about 200 people involved in developing the game. And even when it’s released, development is still not complete as they update the game based on user feedback and create new downloadable content. Alright, this is kind of fun. Let’s go ask more people what they’re doing. It looks like just over there, the people are having a meeting. Let’s see what they’re doing. Excuse me. Can I ask you guys some questions? So, what do you do? What were you guys doing just now? Can I get a peek at what you’re working on? Oh wow! They have a real-deal Tekken 7 machine! Found that game-centers are right next to their work-desk! I guess testing character functionality is part of a days work for these developers, or maybe this is how they settle arguments in the office. So, it looks like Masa is not in his seat right now. He’s supposed to be here, but I guess not. Maybe he went somewhere. Let’s go find out where he is. Oh, there’s Masa! He’s having a scrum meeting! I believe he has this meeting everyday for 30 minutes. They review what they programmed the previous day. What needs to be done today and share and discuss problems for the future. And they use software to manage all the tasks and display it on the screen during their meeting. Oh, are you going to code again? So, where are we now? Okay. So, Masa has a full-on employee nap space at his office. And he even brought his own heated-steamed eye mask. He sure doesn’t mess around when it comes to his naps. What is that? Now he’s back to his coding again, so basically this is what Masa does all day. I mean from morning till the afternoon till the evening before he goes home. He is programming like this in front of a black screen. Oh! He’s going to the finance department to ask about expenses. So, this is the second scrum meeting. The Sprint Review: Held once every two weeks. Usually, they combine it with their first scrum meeting but due to scheduling issues with one of the other members: they have to break up the meeting today. It is interesting though that they use post-it notes to do their final review. I guess sometimes…analog is just better. By the way, the meeting rooms can be booked from this digital panel here. That’s pretty convenient. Now, he’s finishing up his tasks: checking emails that he missed during the meeting and writing a log of today’s activities. Yay! Finally, work is done! Just a little over 8 hours! But Masa says he does have to do overtime once-in-a-while during large projects. Overall though, that’s pretty good for a Japanese company as many other places require their staff to work a lot of overtime hours, which is often unpaid. Now, Masa is meeting up with his work friends for dinner. Otsukaresama-desu is another customary office-term. Often used to greet your co-workers. A difficult translation, loosely translated to mean: “Thank You For Your Work.” And today is payday and it’s Friday as well so time to let loose a bit. Usually in Japanese drinking culture, everyone orders drinks at their own pace, while everyone shares the food. Group splits an entire tab equally at the end, no matter how much each person drank or ate. Also, smoking indoors in Japan is fine as long as the restaurants are okay with it. Which is usually the case with Izakaya drinking restaurants. So Masa, what else do you do in your free time? Even after-work, his PC desk is his go-to-spot. Masa, do you watch YouTube? Well, I don’t know much about Gundam, but I can tell from looking around he sure loves it. So, what are you gonna do for the rest of the night? So, Masa’s gonna be doing this for another couple hours. It looks like he’ll be doing this until midnight. So yeah. This is what he does at the end of the night. All right. So, that’s a Day in the Life of a Japanese Game Programmer. What did you guys think? I actually have quite a few Day in the Life videos. So, if this is your first time: I’ll leave a link to the playlist. And you guys can check that out. And as always, if you want to help support the channel then definitely check out the Tokyo merch. And if you want to see more Day in the Life videos, then I have so much more coming. So hit that subscribe button and the bell button and I’ll catch you guys in the next one.

Reader Comments

  1. – If you missed any Day in the Life vids, here's the entire series playlist. Comment on what else you want to see. Also, if you have questions about Japan, your travels, food, want to connect with people who love Japan, check out my Paolo from Tokyo community on discord!

  2. Too bad we have to waste the nicest years of our lives working like dogs so we maybe we can live long enough to live the remaining 5-10 years popping pills like candy and count the mornings we survived.

  3. Looks like game developer enjoy really healthy in Japan, unlike it counterparts in Western countries. Where entire team is overloaded with work and after the game is realised they are relieved of their duties.

  4. How unpopular is the xbox in japan my friends asked.

    My answer: to the point that bandai buys one, but never plugs it in.

  5. I love the stuff from Bandai Namco, especially Tales of Berseria and God Eater *loking over to my beloved Velvet and Alisa*.
    This year, during my job, I got the oppurtunity to get in contact with their seat in Frankfurt Germany. But acually seeing how daily routine at the HQ looks like is a cool thing for me.

  6. Wow, its my first time to see an actual game studio especially a major one… really amazed by their library and actually have a arcade cab

  7. Could you maybe do another ‘daily life’ of a servicemen working in an official service centers? Like any official Honda or Toyota service centers?

  8. This is actually like the most I've seen inside a Japanese game studio. I wonder how paolo got this access. If he did this for Gamefreak or Nintendo he'd be a magician. Its like an Iron Mountain to get inside Nintendo's game development studios

  9. There are 2 things i like in this video : 1. TEKKEN 7 and 2. The guy working on Visual Studio……………….

  10. So I noticed something about that building they're working in, or maybe I can't see it properly. Does that ceiling not have any water sprinklers in case of a fire? I'd hate for another incident like KyoAni to happen, and for the whole place to burst out in flames.

  11. "Code Vein is basically a JRPG where your fighting in a dungeon"

    Well yes but actually it's a Bloodborne-like game

  12. It only takes him 10 minutes to get ready for work because he's not showering. Unlike the Japanese, we Americans got to take a MONSTER dump in the morning then shower and then go to work

  13. Your smile makes me feel uncomfortable as a russian person, because of my mentality. "If you smile without reason, you are dumb" – that is said a lot in my country. But i really like your vids anyway.

  14. The office is so depressing, no windows and artificial light all day, very claustrophobic. And the fact that his time is controlled to the minute. I feel sorry for him :< Makes you appreciate programming jobs in Europe.

  15. what is with the lack of be sheets in japan? Anyone else count 9 hours at work? I'm very surprised to see how old and basic the equipment is at this business.

  16. You keep on saying Japanese hate foreigners when ur litterally taking a video of someone else’s life smh they litterally don’t want u here’s how

  17. Y'know what this doesn't portray? Is the actual working conditions of salaried game programmers crunching for months, with no overtime pay, then being instantly laid off with no severance pay once the game launches

  18. what i enjoy about these company tours are the freebies/food the company offers and what kind of system they do to make their employees happy and less stressed

  19. ビデオを作ってありがとうパオロ! Things look pretty nice for Namco Bandai employees. I worked for a small game company near Nishi-Shinjuku and every day felt like being in the middle of a dumpster fire. Things were a mess!

  20. Great way to advertise some of the games tbh, Code Vein looks amazing now that i’ve seen the gameplay. I’ll probably grab a copy for Christmas!

  21. Fun fact: What we see at 6:46 is the Visual Studio Code IDE with some "hello world" example project for a web application with the C# programming language which doesn't really do anything.
    At 10:12 we're back in VS Code. This time, we see c++, which is more common in AAA game development..

  22. Tbh i wish i lived in japan or south korea. The climate (debatable but i like it) the people and the food is amazing and also good economies. I was born in s korea and i wished my parents stayed there

  23. since it ain't done & your face is all out, we are gonna hate your polygamist self – because you don't fit the eco-system.

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