One of the most talked-about issues in the video games industry this year has been the Hideo Kojima and Konami split, with the latter coming under intense scrutiny by the games community for its treatment of a well-respected creator. Quite a few industry professionals expressed their disappointment with the way things were handled, and Keji Inafune is the latest to weigh in on the situation, stating that Kojima’s treatment is a Japanese cultural issue. In an interview with GameSpot, Inafune was asked what he thought about the popular opinion that Konami didn’t value Kojima as a creator, to which he said:
So, it’s not about the Japanese companies, but, [what] I think is that the Japanese culture in general has less respect for creators–the field doesn’t matter–compared to North America or European countries. Even though Japan has a lot of creators in different fields–video games, manga, anime–at the same time, as a culture, it’s really hard for creators to grow because of a lack of respect for creators in general. In Japan, it’s almost like: if you’re a CEO, your status is way higher than a creator. Even though you aren’t creating anything, you have social status, money, and your own company–that’s more respected than if you’ve created something from scratch. It’s not about Japanese companies; it’s more due to the Japanese culture.
In America, if you ask any gamer if they know Shigeru Miyamoto, 90 percent of them would say “hell yes!” But if you ask in Japan, less than half, maybe, say “yes.” If you ask Japanese people if they know Mario, Zelda, or Nintendo, Japanese people will say “yes, I know the games.” But if you ask who created them, almost nobody will [know.] That’s the reality.
Inafune went on to say Kojima isn’t known that well by the general public in Japan either. “It’s a really tough time,” he said.
What do our readers think of Inafune’s response?