It’s relatively common knowledge that Japan has a rather infamous reputation for being home to big companies that overwork their employees to the point where they basically live at work. Because of that, it’s rather easy to look at a video game studio like Monolith Soft—a developer known for pushing out hugely ambitious roleplaying games of jaw-dropping scope and scale—and assume that the people working there are well-accustomed to staying at work all day during prolonged periods of crunch time. But according to studio head Tetsuya Takahashi, that isn’t the case at all.
Speaking to GameSpot, Takahashi actually said that his top priority is to ensure that his employees aren’t overworked. He says he’s very careful to distance Monolith Soft from the extreme work ethic of “very traditional Japanese companies.” While Takahashi stresses to his hirelings the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and spending time with family, he often finds that he has to push his employees out of the door.
Takahashi explains what it’s like dealing with employees who feel the need to overwork themselves:
“It’s difficult to convey to people because I’ll have these conversations with Takami, who is working so hard. I can tell that even from his own point of view it’s hard for him to go home because he feels such a sense of responsibility and he wants to continue working on a thing. I try to urge people in that situation to make sure that they’re seeing to the needs of all of their life at that point and not just work. That’s something that’s very important to me.”
— Tetsuya Takahashi
Meanwhile, Takahashi finds that Nintendo’s purchase of Monolith Soft has allowed him to more easily meet his goal of allowing his employees to spend enough time away from work.
“Working with Nintendo has changed our approach to [making games] and given us a little more freedom in terms of how we schedule things out. We don’t have to necessarily drive people in the traditional overtime way that you would see at a lot of Japanese companies.”
— Tetsuya Takahashi