Report: Namco Ignored Programmer's Mental Health. Programmer Committed Suicide.S

Mr. N fell in love with Namco's space shooter Xevious. On his job application, Mr. N wrote that from the moment he played Xevious as a junior high school student, he knew he wanted to make games. And he knew Namco was the company for him.

Mr. N isn't his real name, reported Japanese site My News Japan. It's to protect his identity due to the events that followed.

Mr. N successfully applied to Namco and started work as a game programmer in the early 1990s. It was a dream come true, but it didn't last forever. According to My News Japan, by the time Mr. N was in his mid-30s, he was transferred out of Namco's gaming R&D division and put to work on developing software for pachi-slot machines.

Pachi-slot machines are similar to slot machines, but feature "skill stops"—buttons you press to make the spinning reels stop. Namco puts characters from games like Tekken in the LCD animations featured on pachi-slot machines.

Mr. N, who joined Namco to make video games, apparently started suffering from depression. Repeatedly, he asked for a transfer out of the pachi-slot division. His physician even put in requests. Namco, however, apparently refused these requests, and nine months after the transfer, Mr. N committed suicide.

Namco initially stated that it had "fulfilled its safety obligations", but Mr. N's family ultimately took Namco to court last summer and won. According to My News Japan, last month, Namco settled out of court.

The tragic event underscores not just how Namco, or the Japanese gaming industry ignore mental health, but also how Japanese companies so often move their employees around like pawns on a chessboard, with little to no regard to how those moves impact them.

Kotaku is following up with Namco Bandai regarding this case.

自殺に追い込む [My News Japan]

(Top photo: Namco)