The Desks of Developers – A Pictorial Series

The Desks of Developers - A Pictorial Series

In the late 90s, the Japanese gaming magazine "The Playstation" ran a monthly feature on the workspaces of famous gaming devs. I've collected four of these here and translated the original editorial commentary (which include some remarks from the devs themselves). I've also left the images at their full-size so all the neat time-capsule details can be appreciated. I hope to post more of these in the future as we collect them!

Hideo Kojima - Konami

Predator figurines, Alien replicas, and the Ultraman Daikaijuu series… inside the spacious booth that is the castle of Hideo Kojima, a singular man whose name is credited as "director" on the games he produces, it looks like the show window of a hobby store.

"I didn't always have this much freedom with my desk space. But I slowly built it up until it's got to this point," Kojima says with a laugh. At one point, he formed a figure enthusiast group with his colleagues, and even held meetings at Konami where they would review and rate the latest figures.

Perhaps because of this, a full-scratch model of a turtle made by a junior designer as part of his entrance exam (Kojima says he is "my mentor when it comes to figures") occupies a prominent space on Kojima's desk. And beside that is a portrait of Kojima's 3-year old son, Roman.1 "I can't work without this," Kojima says, blushing, and suddenly the 'Director' is transformed into a 'Dad'.

Caption: Opening the drawer, we find a bunch of gachapon Ultrama Kaijuu figurines. "I give the extras to my son," Kojima said. The collection of movie pamphlets is also impressive. In addition to the mostly B-grade horror movies, we also see a flyer for Le Grand Blue. "It wasn't very good," Kojima admits.

Satoshi Tajiri - Game Freak

The latest Pokemon game was a major breakthrough, and the series' popularity shows no sign of slowing down. Both the character goods and the card game are in great demand. Here in Satoshi Tajiri's office, sample Pokemon goods are piled up and scattered all around the workspace. "I have to inspect each one carefully," Tajiri remarked, "and there's so many that lately, it's been taking me an entire day!" (laughs) Indeed, Tajiri's desk looks like someone dumped the contents a toybox onto it!

However, if one looks closer, the diversity and breadth of Tajiri's interests becomes readily apparent. Flyers from occult movies, strange inserts from Western books, and within his cabinets, his famous collection of PCBs… the wide-ranging, worldly atmosphere of the space befits a multi-talented genius like Tajiri, who has managed to continue to make games that capture the spirit of youth while also running and administering his company business. "The really deep, niche hobby stuff," Tajiri says with a mischievous, boyish smile, "I try to keep a little out-of-sight."

Captions: [LEFT] Tajiri was a trailblazer when it comes to collecting PCBs. While they may look somewhat carelessly strewn about, this actually reflects Tajiri's confidence in his ability to make minor repairs. [RIGHT] There's an ever-increasing number of Pokémon goods coming out, but Tajiri carefully checks out each one before release.

Oji Hiroi - Red Company

There are few creators with spaces as individualistic as Hiroi's workspace. In this tatami room within Red Company's offices, we find some stylish antique furniture, including a writing desk, a tea table, and old cabinetry. Hiroi's favorite powerbook, the DUO DOCK, sits atop the desk, and atop the bookshelves we see numerous figurines… if one looks closely, buried within this cornucopia of hobbyist odds and ends, one finds plastic models and yellowed first editions of manga magazines from over a quarter of a century ago.

"I wouldn't call it a collection--I have no interest in collecting at all. These are just individual things I've liked and bought over the years… similarly, my workplace is simply laid out in a way that feels good to me." Yes, even these maddeningly rare items are simply things Hiroi bought a long time ago which have survived in his keeping down to the present day. "I'm a bit of a hoarder." (laughs) This genius, who has brilliantly turned his hobby into a job, is truly living at his own pace at work!

Captions: [LEFT] Working with his beloved DUO DOCK. "It's slow and unwieldy, but it looks so cool, right? It's like a transforming robot." (laughs) [RIGHT] In addition to the Thunderbirds plastic models, here we see several vintage issues of shounen manga. These precious mementos from Hiroi's youth feel perfectly at home in his unique workspace.

Masaki Iizuka - Artdink

A meticulously organized, almost clinically neat space--when I first saw Iizuka's desk, I can best describe my reaction as "surprised." I was sure that the actual game design work Iizuka does took place somewhere else, and that this space was used for answering postcards from fans or reviewing documents or something. Next to the desk, there's a souvenir from a company vacation to Saipan, but aside from this lone item, I couldn't help but wonder: why such a clinical workspace?

"At Artdink, we change our production teams 3-4 times a year, and we move our workspace each time, so it's best to only keep the most bare minimum, essential items at your desk." It's the kind of rational response one might expect from someone who has helped create so many simulation games. However… glancing up, mixed in amongst the AI and engineering texts on the bookshelf, I spot a hobbyist book on raising ferrets which Iizuka loves. It seems that even in a spartan multi-use space such as this, there are signs of life.

Captions: [LEFT] Iizuka fell in love with ferrets (a species of weasel) after he adopted his own, named "Nanako". When he talks about her, it's the only time we see his expression soften. [RIGHT] Here we see souvenirs from a trip to Saipan. These items bought on the yearly company trip are the only decorations to be found in Iizuka's workspace.

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  1. The name Roman Kojima 「浪漫小島」 doesn't appear in google, so it's possibly an alias used for privacy.


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