PIXEL BURN – The Democratic People’s Republic of Konami

In which Matt peers behind Konami's Iron Curtain.
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[TRANSCRIPT]

Hello you. My name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I take a sarcastic look at some of the more important, interesting or irritating things that happened in the week’s gaming news.

Our first story comes via Japanese financial newspaper The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, or simply The Nikkei to use its more common name, who this week published a scathing report on working conditions inside The Democratic People’s Republic of Konami.

Some of these allegations are already familiar to us, like Kojima Productions being renamed and reclassified as an internal Konami development unit, and team members denied access to the internet. But The Nikkei’s report also exposes other previously unheard allegations that sound so oppressive…well, let’s just say it’s a good thing George Orwell is already dead. The first of The Nikkei allegations is that Konami employees leaving the company offices during their lunch break have their absence monitored with time cards. Anyone who returns late is publicly shamed by having their name and misdeed announced to the rest of the company.

Even if an employee could somehow sneak in and out of the building without a time card, they’d still have to avoid the cameras. Not necessarily the existing security cameras which are there to monitor the building for intruders, but new cameras Konami have had installed in office corridors for the express purpose of monitoring employees.

As well as all this, for several years now most rank-and-file Konami employees haven’t even been allowed their own permanent company email address. They are instead allocated a random email address every few months, consisting of a few letters followed by a string of numbers.

This is allegedly done to prevent corporate headhunting. Because in Konami’s demented fantasy world, personal email addresses don’t exist and corporate headhunters spontaneously combust if they try to pick up a phone.

The random email address rule doesn’t apply for employees in public-facing roles like PR and sales however, because not even Konami are that fucking stupid. Yet considering these are the same sales people who decided releasing the Metal Gear Solid HD collection on the same day as Modern Warfare 3 in 2001 was a good idea, and the same PR people who didn’t even announce Blades of Time’s release until a week after it was launched, Konami probably aren’t too concerned about anyone trying to headhunt them.

Some of you might be thinking “sure, this all makes Konami sound like a shitty place to work, but these people still have relatively secure jobs in an otherwise cushy office complex. It’s not like they’re scrubbing toilets or working in a pachinko-slot factory. Which is indeed true…so long as they meet their performance targets.

You see, perhaps the most damning of all these allegations is that Konami will temporarily reassign developers who don’t meet their performance targets to other jobs like security guards, cleaning staff at the company’s fitness centers and working at a pachinko machine parlor or factory.

The Nikkei did not go into detail about these “performance targets”, but this is Konami we’re talking about! They could be as insane and arbitrary as sacrificing a live goat in honour of a visiting executive, or being required to strangle at least three pigeons per day.

Oh but surely only incompetent junior staff have to worry about that, right? Well, no. According to The Nikkei, even senior producers who’ve worked on multiple big-name titles have, unceremoniously, been demoted to disinfecting bike saddles and asking visitors if they have an appointment.

You know, I used to believe the disbanding of Team Silent – the creative gods and goddesses behind the original Silent Hill trilogy – was a genuine tragedy. In light of all these new allegations about conditions at Konami however I’m now relieved they got out when they did. Because I honestly don’t think I could stand to hear that Akira Yamaoka or Sachiko Sugawara had been banished to some grimy assembly line in a Konami factory somewhere, putting the the finishing touches to one of those new Silent Hill pachinko slot machines.

Indeed, you heard me correctly. There IS a new Silent Hill game out now, and you can find it at your nearest pachinko parlour! Don’t believe me? Here’s a taste of the trailer.

[A SEIZURE-INDUCING CLIP OF THE SILENT HILL PACHINKO MACHINE HAPPENS]

Well, that certainly conveys some of the psychological horror the series is famous for, just not the kind I expected. Incidentally, Konami announced this week that their profits are up by 159%, because there is no God.

In other news, ubiquitous videogame voice actor Nolan North revealed this week that he is the new voice of the little Ghost robot from Destiny, replacing Game of Thrones mainstay Peter Dinklage. And not just for the upcoming Taken King expansion either! According to various sources Bungie has had Nolan North re-record all of Peter Dinklage’s original dialogue to, quote, “create a consistent storytelling experience from beginning to end.” Meaning that as of the Taken King expansion, Peter Dinklage will no longer be in Destiny.

Wow. And here I was thinking George R R Martin would be the first to kill him off.

Many fans and commenters have been especially critical of Dinklage’s performance since Destiny’s launch, with much of their mockery aimed at this little gem of dialogue.

A line that came in for so much stick Bungie eventually removed it altogether.

[“THAT WIZARD DIDN’T COME FROM THE MOON”]

Because of course the blame for the Ghost character sounding so terrible lies squarely on the shoulders of Peter Dinklage. After all, how could anyone with any acting talent whatsoever deliver such a poor performance with a script as Shakespearean as this:

[A MONTAGE OF DESTINY’S SHAKESPEAREAN DIALOGUE HAPPENS]

Ahh, the Bard himself would literally weep with envy were he alive today. I’m being facetious of course. The dialogue is fucking rubbish.

And yet the response from the Destiny community to this news has been quite positive, with some believing Nolan North will give a more inspired performance than Peter Dinklage did. Nolan North is, after all, a veteran voice actor of countless video games, while Peter Dinklage is primarily a film and television actor. And while both technically come under the category of acting, voice acting is a notably different kettle of fish from stage and screen acting.

Nolan North is most famous for the role of Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series, and some are perhaps unwisely expecting The-Robot-Formerly-Known-As-Dinklebot to suddenly start spouting wisecracks and playing…

[THE “MARCO/POLO!” EXCHANGE FROM UNCHARTED OCCURS]

A better comparison however would be Nolan North’s role in Portal 2. In which he played not one, not two, but three robotic characters similar to the Ghost in Destiny. Namely the Adventure Core, the Fact Core and the one everybody got sick of really, really quickly…the Space Core!

Unlike Destiny however, Portal 2 actually has good writing. In fact Bungie would probably be better-off lifting entire chunks of dialogue from it. Take this clip from the trailer for the Taken King expansion for example.

[A CLIP OF THE TAKEN KING TRAILER IS SHOWN. I FALL ASLEEP.]

God! How boring, po-faced and up-your-own-arse is that, eh? Let’s watch it again with some Portal 2 dialogue in there.

[TAKEN KING TRAILER WITH ADVENTURE SPHERE]

See? Instant improvement!

Needless to say I’m not holding out hope of Nolan North bringing too much of an improvement to the game’s dialogue. As talented and ubiquitous as he is, and no matter how much Bungie let him put his own stamp on the character like he claims, there’s still only so much he’ll be able to do to polish Destiny’s turd of a script.

As for Peter Dinklage himself, I doubt he’s too cut up about getting the boot from Bungie. At the end of the day he still has his paychecque.

Along with, y’know, that whole “Game of Thrones thing he does.

That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you still liked it then please let me know by clicking the button down below, and let your friends, family and Nolan North know as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. In the meantime until next week, as always, you can go now.

Matt

About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.