#70: “Like a Dead Fish”
Published in 2016/10/27 issue
Yesterday (October 4, 2016), Square Enix held its annual get-together for upcoming graduates that will join the company next year. For the past three years or so, the upcoming employee event has been held at the beginning of October, while the post-entrance ceremony get-together has been held at the beginning of April. In other words, these similar events happen twice a year. I get called in because I’m an executive overseeing development, but I’m just not good at handling these events.
One of the reasons is because of the sparkle in all of the new recruits’ eyes. I mean, of course this isn’t a bad thing—it’s their first step as a new employee, and some of them probably dreamed of working for Square Enix, so of course they’d be excited. Everyone would be the same way at their first entrance ceremony.
But when all of these pure and innocent kids approach me, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable. On a scale between “pure” and “trash”, I’m definitely way towards the “trash” side, so in my mind, I end up thinking, “Don’t look at me with those radiant eyes!”
The second reason is because I don’t know how to answer their questions. Especially with the upcoming employee event, there’s still half a year left before they officially join the company and start working. So, they ask me things like, “How should we be preparing during the next half year!?” My first instinct is to say, “You’re finally free from both studying and job hunting, so do whatever you want!” Sometimes I do actually say it. However, that casual one-liner is met with serious faces and nods, so I end up thinking that maybe I should’ve given a more proper answer…
Honestly, I think pre-employment preparations are useless. Even if you spend your half-year in self-indulgence, you’ll automatically become a working adult once the entrance ceremony rolls around. You usually don’t get to choose which department you’ll be assigned to, so you won’t know who your boss or colleagues will be. For game development, every company and team has different approaches and style guidelines, so you won’t know what they do until you jump in and see. In other words, most of the things you learn and remember are going to be after you’ve entered the working society, which is where you’ll spend the majority of your life. That means that right now is the only “paradise” you’ll ever have—a time free from exams, job hunting, and complaints from your parents. And in the best case, it’ll last an entire half-year.
That’s why I end up thinking that you should skip school as much as you can, only do the bare minimum amount of work required to graduate, and have as many fun experiences as possible. Once you start working, a ruthless race begins that you can’t start over—a race packed with duties, performance results, evaluations, wages, and promotions. I don’t think that everyone has to enter this race, but a lot of people will want to at least sprint at the beginning. So, you won’t have time to play around anymore.
There are also a considerable number of people who think, “I’m only working to make a living, so it doesn’t really matter” (and I actually like this way of thinking). However, you’ll run into times when working according to your own schedule doesn’t get the work done in time, a mistake needs to be fixed, or you need to work overtime to get something done. Things won’t always follow your own principles. That means that you still need to do a certain amount of sprinting at the beginning of your employment for the sake of making it easier on you later. There are a lot of things you need to know in order to learn your work faster, interact with your superiors better, and go home on time. Naturally, you’re better off resisting your desire to have fun and figuring out these things right away. Do the hard tasks first.
It seems that there’s no existing concept of “playing as a form of preparation” before stepping out into society. Nevertheless, I think it’s important to intentionally play around (you could call it taking a breather) in order to take on your next job optimistically. So, please have fun before you start working. If you’re working in game development, oftentimes, you can later look back on the stimuli and experiences you went through while playing to form the basis for your ideas.
Also, writing it like this might make it sound like playing is good because you’ll get ideas out of it, but that’s usually just an excuse made by people who want to play games. People generally don’t get ground-breaking flashes of inspiration while playing to their heart’s content. Ideas don’t dawn upon you when you’re caught up in playing, watching, or listening to something; what happens is that the stimuli and experiences subconsciously link to each other in your brain and generate something meaningful—this is ultimately just from my experience, though.
As I was pondering these things, this year’s get-together came to a close. Well, it’s not so much that it ended—it was supposed to finish at 9 p.m., but my assistant reminded me to wrap things up because I had a meeting at 8 p.m., so I left early.
While I was descending the stairs from Square Enix HQ’s 20th floor (where the lounge is) to the 18th floor (where my desk is), it suddenly dawned upon me that I must be the complete opposite of the young people at the event. Here I am, sluggishly making my way down the stairs with the eyes of a dead fish. In half a year, at the get-together after the entrance ceremony, I’ll be sure to tell them that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having your eyes turn into a dead fish’s stare.
It’s only when a person is unmotivated or feeling hopeless that they can’t allow themselves to have dead fish eyes. When a tired old man lets his mind wander, his eyes naturally become this way. I wonder if they’ll still listen to me with sparkles in their eyes if I tell them this. *laughs*