'I'll let's say that it was the world' I want a spirit that. Tango Gameworksrepresentative Shinji Mikami

Creating a Challenging
Environment for
Young Creators

Although there are plenty of talented creators in the Japanese game industry, the modern environment doesn’t offer them many opportunities to work on AAA titles. I wanted to be able to offer them those kinds of opportunities and to provide a challenge to young creators who are just getting their start in the industry. That feeling is what led me to found Tango Gameworks in the first place.

In previous generations, creators could just make games from ideas that they thought were interesting and that would often be enough to generate surprising amounts of popularity, not just in Japan but overseas as well. During that era of gaming, up through the 1990s or so, Japan dominated the industry. But starting around the early 2000s, the Japanese game industry started to feel strong pressure from Western developers, and has never quite regained its former prominence. But even now, if you make something great, you’ll still get attention from people all over the world. I want Tango to be a place where young creators have plenty of chances to make those great games.

I’ve always been a fan of Argentine Tango and the way its musical composition incorporates themes of light and dark. Thinking that I wanted my company to have that same mix of warm, vibrant joy and cool stoicism, I chose Tango for the name of the company. The company logo, a snail whose design is based around the first two letters of the company name, was chosen because I liked the way that a snail stood out as unique among more common animal-themed logos such as cats or birds.

Creating Fun Games to
Ensure Player Satisfaction.

One of the things that makes Tango stand apart from other game studios is the extreme degree of freedom in the development environment. People at Tango are generally free to work as they like, with the understanding that their output will be strictly checked for quality.

I myself have a tendency to drift around between different ideas. I find myself wanting to work on a variety of different projects and I like to take chances on projects with lofty aspirations or new ideas, even if we can’t be sure that they’ll pan out in the end. For that reason, I want to offer young people those kinds of opportunities as well. My goal with Tango was to assemble a staff with a high skill level that can put out quality products, while at the same time maintaining an atmosphere of freedom where anyone can feel free to make suggestions or express their opinions about what they would like to work on next.

Our two fundamental principles of game design are to create games that we ourselves think are fun, and to ensure that those games will be satisfying to our players. Game development never goes quite according to plan, and there is a lot of hard work involved. If the game isn’t something that we can get excited about ourselves, it becomes impossible to keep working at it day after day. And if we put out games that the players don’t want or need, then the company itself would be in trouble. This is why product satisfaction from both the developers and the players is crucial to the development process.

Game development takes a lot of time, money, and hard work from a lot of people, and it’s often a long process of trial and error with the ultimate goal of creating an excellent product for our players. We stick to our guns and work hard to get through that process, never giving up until we have a final product that we can be proud of.

Ideas and
Hard Work to Compete
with Western Developers

The relationship between Western and Japanese games in the modern game industry is similar to the relationship between the Hollywood and Japanese film industries. Japan’s game ideas are still on roughly the same level as their Western counterparts, but we’re falling behind on the technical side. Because of this, when you start tweaking things on the concept side to make a Japanese game more marketable, to make it appeal to a wider audience and make it more profitable, at the same time you lose part of the main advantage that a Japanese game creator brings to the table in the first place: our ideas. In order to successfully compete with the American and European game industries, Japanese game developers need great ideas and hard work that won’t lose out to their overseas competitors.

In today’s game market, anyone can easily get their hands on games from all over the world. It’s an era in which everyone can pick and choose what games they want to play based on their own personal tastes. There is absolutely a segment of the gaming population that enjoys the distinctive style of Japanese games, and I want us to create unique works that those players will truly love. However, young creators are the ones who should be creating these works. What the world needs isn’t another Shinji Mikami. What it needs is new minds creating fresh new games for the new generation.

Above All, a Passion for Games

I eventually want to hire a lot of new talent, including people who have previous work experience in other fields. If no one is there to give young people a chance and train them properly, the industry is going to stagnate. Speaking of training up new talent, back when I first got into the game industry, they just told new people to watch and learn from what everyone else was doing and threw them straight into the thick of things without any real preparation. That atmosphere was good for people with an exceptionally strong drive to improve, but for most people it wasn’t an efficient use of time.

Thinking back on that rough start, I’ve made it my goal to ease new developers into things with both practical training and real-world experience on our projects. The most important qualification of all for staff at Tango is a passion for games. Other important factors are resilience in the face of adversity and communication skills. If a candidate has all of these qualifications then they should naturally be able to improve their technical skills, to a certain extent, over time. Ideas are also of course important, but new ideas first need to be accepted by the team before they can be integrated into a project.

The kind of staff that I want to attract to Tango are gamers who have the ability, the passion, and the nerve to really shake up the gaming world, people who will push tired standards and their aging predecessors out of the way to create something fresh and new. I really respect creators who are willing to stick to their vision to create a good, fun game.