Tetsuya Nomura is very popular between fans of the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts fanchises, but he doesn’t think of himself as a famous man, as he stated as part of an interesting interview on RPGSite (that for once doesn’t ask him if he prefers PS4 or Xbox One), giving us a small glimpse on the Japanese game development culture.
The interviewer asked Nomura-san if ever wished to escape his fame and go back to being an anonymous game developer, and the response was somewhat surprising, and intriguing.
I’ve never actually felt that way ever before! (laughs) I’m not sure if you know the term, but in Japan I’m what you’d call a salary man! (laughs) The company’s slave, basically – I don’t feel any fame too much. I never feel the pressure – and because of that I’ve never felt the desire to drop my name and go anonymous.
That’s actually a quite realistic representation of the Japanese game industry. Setting a few superstars aside, not many developers are put on a pedestal and treated in a much different way than any salary man, even if they are high level ones like Nomura-san. It’s mostly a matter of local culture, that influences individuals to feel more like they’re one of the cogs in the machine instead of an unique little snowflake. In Japan the team normally matters more than the single star developer.
Of course there are exceptions like Kojima or Nagoshi, but what Nomura-san described is the norm.