Day in the Life of a Japanese Game Programmer


This is a Day in a Life of a Japanese Game Programmer. This is Masa. 23 year old programmer living in Tokyo and working for one of the largest video game companies in Japan. And this is how he starts his workday. He lives alone in a typical Japanese apartment. Which are known for their efficient use of space like this enclosed unit bath with built-in sink facilities. Masa, how long does it take for you to get ready for work? Like most salaryman in Tokyo, he commutes to work by train, door-to-door about 40 minutes, so it’s not bad. But, more than half of his trip is walking to and from the train station. Not pleasant on rainy days like this. Alright, so Masa should be coming soon, but the typhoons these months have been really, really crazy. Dang! Look! The trains are super packed! Crazy typhoon, right? So, Masa works for Bandai Namco Studios, which is the network entertainment unit of Bandai Namco group. They’re known for developing popular game paddles like Tekken, Mario Kart, and even Pac-Man. And, there’s about a thousand employees in the Tokyo office spread across five floors. That’s his digital timecard. He’s officially clocked in now. Also, common in many Japanese companies is for employees to change into slippers for the work day. So, this is Masa’s office. Very common Japanese tile-desk with low dividers. So, Masa keeps his desk area simple like many of his coworkers. It’s very different when compared to Western desks which are often littered with decorations and family pictures. First thing in the morning, he checks his email as well as the internal company’s social network for updates, while also having a quick breakfast. Masa, where did you buy a juice? What is that? So, Masa is doing his morning task right now. It’s gonna be some time before he has kind of like a break, because he’s pretty focused. So, let’s go walk around the office and see what kind of facilities they have! So, right behind Masa’s desk, they have a game corner kind of placed right here. And they have the Switch, they have the PlayStation, they have Xbox, and they even have some virtual reality gear! I guess you get to play games anytime you want which is pretty cool! Wow! And just below here, there’s a big, big computer! I think it’s an alienware computer. Looks like one powerful machine. All right, so this is the break room area on the second floor. Let’s see what they have! Separate all of the trash. They have burnables, you have the cans, and the bottles and you also have the non-burnables like plastic. They have a hot water pot and microwave. So, this behind me is their snack corner but it runs on the honor system. So, basically at the top, you have a place where you deposit money. All the different chocolates or candies, they have a price for it. And even the refrigerator has the frozen treats like ice cream and whatnot. And you just need to pay on the honor system. And then you take what you actually paid for. I don’t know how would this do in your country’s office? All right, and so, let’s check what’s down here. So, this place says library, but in fact, it’s not a library of books! It’s a library of games! Check this out! So, they have all these different consoles all the way from like Nintendo to PC Engine. I don’t even know what it is. An original NES here. Gamecube. An original Sega. Sega Saturn. Even a Family Computer. They have like every single game ever! And it’s not just in this aisle! They have this aisle and they have this aisle. And then they have this aisle but… But this aisle actually looks like books. They even have all kinds of game cartridges from back-in-the-day. Nintendo DS. They even have like a baseball game. Sim City. I wonder how many years it would take to play all of these games. What’s your favorite old-school console? Because I’m sure they probably have it here. So, this area here is their administration section of the office. It’s kind of like the business side of the company. And this behind me is where all of the executives stay. So, this area is a lot nicer than the common area. But as you can see, the office are fairly reasonable. The president’s room is fairly the same size as the other executives. Finally! Lunch Time! So, he’s Masa’s Douki, which means the co-worker who started working at the company at the same time. In fact, it’s common for many Japanese companies to do mass hiring once-a-year for college graduates. Just outside this dope cafeteria, food trucks come during lunch time. Apparently, the trucks vary each day. But damn, it doesn’t look like a pleasant experience waiting in line during this typhoon. Masa, do you always eat here? So, is this the only office in Japan? That’s a decent option for lunch! Itadakimasu is a customary term used by Japanese before each meal. Meaning: “Let’s Eat.” or “Thank you for the Meal!” Looks like they have a little time before their lunch break finishes. I wonder where they’re going. What is that? Oh wow! They take their Pac-Man serious here! And like all the games here, it’s also free-to-play anytime. Masa, so what are you doing now? So, kinda got some free time while Masa is working. So, why don’t we spend this time and maybe go meet some people. So, apparently, they have all their different teams working in different parts of the office. We’re actually on a different floor right now. Excuse me. So, what kind of work do you do? What’s Code Vein? So, Code Vein is a dramatic, exploration, action RPG. With animated-out characters in a challenging and dangerous dungeon environment. So, can you show me? I think he was ready to show it. He want the game right now. But, he’s just asking some of those guys to prepare the game for me and they’re gonna put it on the screen. So yeah, I’m kind of excited to see what kind of game it is. Wow, this is an attractive looking game. How long did it take to develop this game? He also said that at one time, there was about 200 people involved in developing the game. And even when it’s released, development is still not complete as they update the game based on user feedback and create new downloadable content. Alright, this is kind of fun. Let’s go ask more people what they’re doing. It looks like just over there, the people are having a meeting. Let’s see what they’re doing. Excuse me. Can I ask you guys some questions? So, what do you do? What were you guys doing just now? Can I get a peek at what you’re working on? Oh wow! They have a real-deal Tekken 7 machine! Found that game-centers are right next to their work-desk! I guess testing character functionality is part of a days work for these developers, or maybe this is how they settle arguments in the office. So, it looks like Masa is not in his seat right now. He’s supposed to be here, but I guess not. Maybe he went somewhere. Let’s go find out where he is. Oh, there’s Masa! He’s having a scrum meeting! I believe he has this meeting everyday for 30 minutes. They review what they programmed the previous day. What needs to be done today and share and discuss problems for the future. And they use software to manage all the tasks and display it on the screen during their meeting. Oh, are you going to code again? So, where are we now? Okay. So, Masa has a full-on employee nap space at his office. And he even brought his own heated-steamed eye mask. He sure doesn’t mess around when it comes to his naps. What is that? Now he’s back to his coding again, so basically this is what Masa does all day. I mean from morning till the afternoon till the evening before he goes home. He is programming like this in front of a black screen. Oh! He’s going to the finance department to ask about expenses. So, this is the second scrum meeting. The Sprint Review: Held once every two weeks. Usually, they combine it with their first scrum meeting but due to scheduling issues with one of the other members: they have to break up the meeting today. It is interesting though that they use post-it notes to do their final review. I guess sometimes…analog is just better. By the way, the meeting rooms can be booked from this digital panel here. That’s pretty convenient. Now, he’s finishing up his tasks: checking emails that he missed during the meeting and writing a log of today’s activities. Yay! Finally, work is done! Just a little over 8 hours! But Masa says he does have to do overtime once-in-a-while during large projects. Overall though, that’s pretty good for a Japanese company as many other places require their staff to work a lot of overtime hours, which is often unpaid. Now, Masa is meeting up with his work friends for dinner. Otsukaresama-desu is another customary office-term. Often used to greet your co-workers. A difficult translation, loosely translated to mean: “Thank You For Your Work.” And today is payday and it’s Friday as well so time to let loose a bit. Usually in Japanese drinking culture, everyone orders drinks at their own pace, while everyone shares the food. Group splits an entire tab equally at the end, no matter how much each person drank or ate. Also, smoking indoors in Japan is fine as long as the restaurants are okay with it. Which is usually the case with Izakaya drinking restaurants. So Masa, what else do you do in your free time? Even after-work, his PC desk is his go-to-spot. Masa, do you watch YouTube? Well, I don’t know much about Gundam, but I can tell from looking around he sure loves it. So, what are you gonna do for the rest of the night? So, Masa’s gonna be doing this for another couple hours. It looks like he’ll be doing this until midnight. So yeah. This is what he does at the end of the night. All right. So, that’s a Day in the Life of a Japanese Game Programmer. What did you guys think? I actually have quite a few Day in the Life videos. So, if this is your first time: I’ll leave a link to the playlist. And you guys can check that out. And as always, if you want to help support the channel then definitely check out the Tokyo merch. And if you want to see more Day in the Life videos, then I have so much more coming. So hit that subscribe button and the bell button and I’ll catch you guys in the next one.


100 Responses

  1. Paolo fromTOKYO

    November 29, 2019 11:37 pm – If you missed any Day in the Life vids, here's the entire series playlist. Comment on what else you want to see. Also, if you have questions about Japan, your travels, food, want to connect with people who love Japan, check out my Paolo from Tokyo community on discord!

  2. Mute

    December 3, 2019 2:29 am

    This is very similar to my life as a programmer in America, right down to the nap room! Only our lunch is catered and free every day.

  3. Diego Chiari

    December 3, 2019 3:16 am

    Paolo:- Hey dude who are you?
    random Guy:- I'm Shigeru Miyamoto. I'm working on the new Mario for Nintendo Switch 2.
    Paolo: Cool, see you later alligator

  4. Maximus Moretta

    December 3, 2019 3:19 am

    Great video! Can you make a video of up and coming towns outside of Tokyo where / would like expats can live?

  5. Diego Chiari

    December 3, 2019 3:23 am

    I need to see:
    A day in the life of a japanese super secret agent
    A day in the life of a japanese noodle
    A day in the life of a japanese mexican
    A day in the life of a japanese feeling

  6. Jøra_ Zerø

    December 3, 2019 3:24 am

    Their office buildings and systems are really more efficient than the American ones. They consider the workers' health conditions and let them take naps for more energy, the meetings held every once in a while to ensure work is being done, and so much more. American businesses should learn from this.

  7. Karen McLeod

    December 3, 2019 3:35 am

    That's probably the most posh workplace we've seen so far; the perks are nice. Paolo, thought your head might explode when you discovered the game library and all the vintage stuff. That must have been pretty cool. This series is consistently amazing. You are so good at what you do.

  8. xjellybeans x

    December 3, 2019 3:41 am

    I think this is my daughter’s career in the future. She talks about games all day and everyday 😂

  9. Luis Llata

    December 3, 2019 3:45 am

    Paolo deberías poner subtítulos en español, porque hay mucha gente de habla hispana que ve tus vídeos y que no saben inglés o japonés como por ejemplo yo.
    Gracias ✌🏽!!!.

    Regards |🇵🇪✓

  10. Jepoy's Art

    December 3, 2019 4:02 am

    I like the way all the Japanese guys let him to go the offices and asking having a tour wellcomed warmly. The programer guy has a perfect schedule to his daily routine. What an amazing job. How I wish I'll have that job too in JAPAN😍❤😊🥰

  11. NES 3

    December 3, 2019 5:06 am


  12. Zero

    December 3, 2019 5:18 am

    Coding… Ah, the memories of my freshmen year before I changed majors. I imagined my job back then to be something like this. But alas hard work betrays none, but dreams betray many. So I picked a different profession.

  13. ramses kat

    December 3, 2019 5:34 am

    At this point, I wouldn't be surprise if one of these days you interview heihachi mishima in the flesh!

  14. Andromalius

    December 3, 2019 5:56 am

    All the comments are about how Paolo met the directors of tekken and code vein, but can we just appreciate for a second how nice of an office environment this is?

  15. Bekon241

    December 3, 2019 6:13 am

    Hi 3:50 anyone can tell me when i can buy frame like this on wall? And some poster like this can be little smaler size 🙂 Thanks. PC engine orginal name is TurboGrafx16 super cool console 🙂

  16. SuperBasic 101

    December 3, 2019 7:02 am

    Man the Japanese are so much better than us, they give you what’s essentially a field trip partner to go eat lunch with.

  17. Антон Старовойтов

    December 3, 2019 7:07 am

    у ведущего лицо как у осла из Шрека, улыбка такая же, я чет не мог смотреть нормально и орал

  18. Võ Thanh Trí

    December 3, 2019 7:30 am

    another great video, I'm enjoying this, please make more like this, more power to you Paolo.!!!!!!

    Please do more day in the life, your video really inspire me to come to Japan and work there one day…

  19. __________________________________

    December 3, 2019 7:32 am

    Honor systems would work in an environment like that. Not in a warehouse or labor job tho..just make sure you pay people enough to buy snacks.

  20. kenny Ozone

    December 3, 2019 8:37 am

    U didn't ask how much he gets paid obviously not much. These companies make lots of money but pay workers peanuts.

  21. Professional RazoR

    December 3, 2019 9:34 am

    For your guys acknowledge

    Data Scientist (Coding) salary can be more than USD100,000 and the first which has the highest salary

  22. Richard G

    December 3, 2019 10:11 am

    i really dont understand why people thumbs down a video like this?! 622 people musta had a bad day.
    keep em comin, paulo! more mangaka day in the life shows if you can please

  23. H.Brandt

    December 3, 2019 10:49 am

    I suppose he lives and breath Gundam why he chose to become a monotonous game programmer every day. I would never enjoy the work as game programmer. Maybe game designers and artists are doing the fun parts of the creation of the game.


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