What this has to do with videogames: Once, when I was working for a Japanese game company as something of a liaison to help them develop games with a more future-proof "western" method, I suggested that every employee be, at all points in the process, encouraged to offer input on things such as game design. The initial reaction was, "That's what the game designers do!" It took days of near-futile conversation to uncover the controversial finding that, prior to designing a game for the first time, people like Shigeru Miyamoto had actually never designed any games. To be most blunt, modern Japanese games are so soulless because the only people who make them are people who make games. You need some outside influence, I said. And anyway, maybe some of these people who like videogames enough to learn how to program them might have some decent ideas of what they like or don't like in game design? What happened, eventually, was an email: "ALL EMPLOYEES ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT TO THE CONFERENCE ROOM IMMEDIATELY FOR A BRAINSTORMING SESSION RE: GAME DESIGN". Some part-time kid fresh out of college sat there with a notebook, writing down literally everything everyone said. The meeting was a terrible failure. "That didn't work," someone said. "So much for that idea," someone else said.
Once, another foreign employee at another company suggested to the management that they try doing things like ordering pizza — or the Japanese equivalent — for the employees, every once in a while. You know, because these guys put in soul-crushing work hours and could probably use the encouragement from the company. He was immediately greeted with an automaton-like voice: "QUANTIFY: 'ENCOURAGEMENT'". His explanation was that employees who are actually happy, or content, or who feel appreciated, generally do better work. The guys in this company were the type to sit at their desks with bowls of terrible convenience-store ramen through the night. Why not treat them to, you know, one higher class of a food? The human resources department passed the idea around, and figured it couldn't hurt. So, one day, we got an email: "THIS FRIDAY AT SIX PM, EVERY EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO REPORT TO THE CONFERENCE ROOM TO EAT PIZZA". Well, there you go.
What I mean is, what kind of comedy is it that you really would 'love' to do? Give me a for example."
"It's . . . hard to just think of something off the top of my head."
"Here's one you can use — just come out and immediately say, 'So, I just want to confess, I haven't jerked off in four years. Yeah, ever since that day my microwave malfunctioned, I can't reach my hand high enough over my head!"
"I don't get it. Masturbation is a taboo topic, so, no."
He's typical of what I'd seen in a lot of Western foreigners in Japan. After the honeymoon period ends, they start to notice everything that bugs them about a society. But instead of realizing that these things aren't really particular to Japan, they start to convince themselves otherwise.
"Asia is sufficiently far away and exotic enough to Americans that it becomes a Rorschach blot on which they perceive their greatest hopes and worst fears," said William H. Overholt, a managing director of Bankers Trust who has lived in and followed Asia for a decade.
"I have spent a large part of my life circling the globe, immersing myself in languages, and tolerating the hell out of some world cultures. Believe it or not, though, I am the kind of person who focuses on the positive things until, one at a time, I manage to wear them out. In short — and maybe this is just a theory — if I move someplace new, I like it for a while, until finally I can't stand it."
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