Keiji Inafune has lamented that Japanese trait of companies failing to recognise the talents and achievements of individuals within their ranks, accusing such practices of stifling creativity and making the role of creative 'hero' - inspirational figures he feels the industry desperately needs - an unappealling one.
Speaking in an interview with Gamasutra, the outspoken ex-Capcom man acknowledged that this isn't the first time he's lamented the state of Japan's industry. 'It feels like things have just settled down -- or to put it another way, that people just aren't hungry enough any longer,' said Inafune. 'There aren't as many companies, or managers of development studios, that really want to succeed or accomplish something, so there needs to be something that gets that feeling back.'
Inafune admitted that Japan 'has had it worse' this past year, but he also suggested that the Japanese industry is lacking 'heroes', both in terms of creators and characters.
'Hollywood, at the core, keeps putting out these hero stories, and the result of that is you have a nation who thinks to itself "I want to be like that." Compared to the U.S., though, I don't think Japanese games and other media really present that sort of hero to the audience. There were lots of those back when I was a kid, though. So it's a bit of a strange way of putting it, but I think the problem lies in the hearts of the creators.'
The KAOI creative said that much of that has to do with traditional business practices in Japan, where the emphasis is on the company rather the achievements or legacies of individuals.
'In terms of support, or to go back to the previous topic, in terms of whether they recognize creators as the "heroes" here, that isn't happening. For example, in the U.S., Medal of Honor was a huge hit as a series, and in response to that, Call of Duty started up in hopes of becoming even bigger. It succeeded, of course.
'[...] In social games, you have outfits like Zynga that blew it out of the park from the very beginning -- they have that hunger, they want to be the heroes, and it's something the management recognizes and nurtures.
'In Japan, meanwhile, even if you take the hero role, what it gets you is interviews like this one -- it's not like your salary goes up or anything. You don't get much reward for your effort. You get massive amounts of responsibility -- the responsibility to take this game and make it sell X copies -- but not much in terms of respect. That's why we can't give birth to heroes.
'It's the classic style in Japan to respect the company as a whole and not the individuals that contribute to it. It's a hard environment for creators to be noticed in. Especially with the current state of the industry -- it's never been totally destroyed before. There are multiple revolutions through the years in all kinds of other industries, movies and so forth, but games is still a young industry, so that hasn't happened.'