The Instrument Called PlatinumGames
Kamiya: I feel a certain bond of trust with all of us who entered Platinum the first year it was founded. It makes you wonder why they chose to come to our company in the first place. My team: Shirai, Sada, Ohkura.
Inaba: We couldn’t do the usual recruiting cycle right after founding the company, so instead we went around asking at game design colleges. I was surprised how many hopped on board this brand new company whose name they had never heard. Of course, it’s those very staff who today form the core of our development teams.
Kamiya: I believe there is something about our company that attracts people who like to try new things, explore uncharted territory. The reason we are able to split up into teams and make games is that we respect each individual’s originality. Of course, this style can cause some conflicts with new hires who are used to the culture of other companies. But there are also many cases where they are able to move past those conflicts and embrace the PlatinumGames way.
Inaba: That’s true, since you cannot expect a company’s culture to change to fit what you are used to. When you are committed to creating brand new games, the individuality of each staff member becomes very important.
When you think about it, in time this leads to the company taking on a personality of its own. For you, Kamiya, if you cater to the users’ every whim and compromise your vision, it will probably be the last game you ever make. That is why you have to let that personal touch permeate your games. If you have an idea you cannot just keep your mouth shut. If you betray the players’ trust, it will come back and bite you in the ass. It is true that from a management perspective it makes sense to forget inspiration and uncharted territory and go for stability with sequels to proven series. But stability is not the be all and end all. There is nothing wrong with a sequel to a great game, but sometimes there are other things you want to do, things that you need to do.
Kamiya: This may not be directly related, but the games I played before entering the industry hold a special place in my heart. They represent something I aspire to, something I devoted myself to more than studying or relationships. To a certain extent there has been a retro revival in recent years, with many games from the 80s being made available on download services like PS, etc. However, many of the minor titles never have a chance to see the light of day. I think this is the one of biggest shortcomings of modern gaming culture. There is a treasure trove of great games out there, but they are being thrown out and forgotten like yesterday’s trash. A lot of those games are no longer playable. This is a challenge that we, as an industry, have to face.
Inaba: I agree. We grew up alongside games – they are more than just a job for us. I am sure there are others out there who feel the same way about video games. Who knows, in the future there may be fans who feel just as passionately about PlatinumGames titles.
Kamiya: If those people, in turn, end up pursuing a career in the game industry, we can really say we had an impact on their lives. Those impressionable years back in middle school ended up determining the direction of the rest of my life. If we can inspire others to devote themselves to games, nothing would make me happier.
Inaba: To make that dream a reality, it is up to me to foster an environment that allows people like Kamiya to continue to express their creativity. At the same time, I have to keep an eye on the next generation, and make sure they are able to produce Kamiya’s games after me. Well, until Kamiya’s career is finished, I’m prepared to keep supporting him as his producer.
Kamiya: Yeah, I have been getting all self-important about my style as a director, but at the end of the day I’m just happy to be able to make games in a place like this. I mean, there are plenty of companies who keep you on a tight schedule, making sequels to games where they could change the entire development staff without anybody noticing. The only reason I am even able to go on like this about creativity is that I work in this environment. I’m not out there making games by myself – it is thanks to the development staff and everyone at PlatinumGames. I can’t picture myself anywhere else.
Inaba: I agree that our development environment is essential. But for me as a producer, I have to take a more active role in creating and maintaining my ideal office space. I don’t mean that in the sense of a floor plan or anything like that – I see the PlatinumGames environment as an “instrument”, a tool to bring out the best in our employees. In a way, it is a bit similar to a theme park, guiding the experience of those inside. I can’t say I have realized my ideals yet, but slowly but surely I am getting there.