Video game producer and video game Twitter’s best friend Ikumi Nakamura has recently started a new studio. Called Unseen, and founded by Nakamura after her departure from Tokyo Gameworks, it’s a new development studio located in the heart of Tokyo itself. As part of the studio’s current hiring drive, Nakamura created a video to take people on a tour through the new office space.
Though the tour does its best to conceal the rather sparse office floor behind her, much of what will become a modern office is already in place. The striking outfitting at the entrance is already complete, with the company logo and a little bonsai tree welcoming visitors in. During the tour, Nakamura tells us how they got hold of the space, a refurbished warehouse with high ceilings that offers her nascent team a lot of room to grow. As Nakamura observes, in a city as densely packed as Tokyo, an office space this large doesn’t open up terribly often and securing one requires good timing and a great deal of luck.
One of the cuter factoids about the space is its design. Nakamura turned the studio’s own level designers loose in Unreal Engine to create a level that would become the office’s real-world layout. She says this was to better create a place that would serve her developer’s needs more fully. She fully admits, however, that the result was a fairly standard open-plan environment where everyone can be observed at all times. Remember that the company is called Unseen and enjoy the irony.
(A modest proposal: ban all open-plan offices.)
The centre of the space is defined by a series of shelves that look a bit like a construction scaffold. These shelves are decorated with mementos — games that members of the team have worked on, little keepsakes from different projects. Nakamura’s E3 2019 badge, the one she wore during her Tokyo Ghostwire presentation at Bethesda’s conference, the moment that made her an internet sensation, is memorialised. Hidden inside all this scaffold is what can only be described as a 70’s stoner den, with shag carpets and low couches. It’s clearly a spot designed to be a chill common area, somewhere to work or take a meeting that’s a little more interesting than a desk or side office.
A framed wall holds tiled portraits of the current staff, drawn in the studio’s house style by a local artist called NASS. The tiles can be removed or reshuffled, and Nakamura says, outgoing staff are welcome to take their portrait with them as a keepsake.
Anyway, this kind of transparency is an interesting strategy for a new studio to take. Not only is it, I’m sure, an effective hiring tool, it also pulls back the curtain on what game development office spaces sometimes look like.
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