I’ve been reading through the new book Japansoft: An Oral History recently, and while it’s full of very cool and interesting stories about the earliest days of Japanese game development, there’s one story in particular that’s my favourite.
The book is a prettier and more concise repackaging of John Szczepaniak’s excellent The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers series, featuring a few new interviews and a load of candid old anecdotes about how some of the biggest companies in video games got started.
Anyway, my fave is from Konami, where Masaaki Kukino, who in the mid-80s was an artist at the company (he would go on to work at SNK and produce King of Fighters XII and XIII) remembers that Konami’s fledgling headquarters was located in a neighbourhood that left its employees looking a bit...well.
Around Konami’s building there were so many other businesses, like apparel companies. Big ones, like World and Tasaki. There was also a ladies’ lingerie manufacturer and so on, so the people working for them were really fashionable! Konami’s employees were...Well, they didn’t quite dress as well.
So, you know, sometimes Konami got complaints from employees of the surrounding companies! We were a little dirty because we were so busy that we didn’t take as many baths as we should have, perhaps.
Goes to show, the dangers of crunch aren’t just the impact it has on your health and relationships. In 80s Japan, there were public decency concerns as well.
Just so you know, Konami’s offices at the time were located on Port Island, a man-made island off the coast of Kobe, and looked like this:
The company’s current HQ, meanwhile, located in the middle of Tokyo, doesn’t have the same problem:
Japansoft: An Oral History is out now, and you can get it here.