Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Japanese Efficiency

A few years ago, a coworker and I along with several testers from our company’s head office were sent to Japan for a month in order to test a video game at the developer’s studio in Yokohama, just outside of Tokyo. It was a long, grueling schedule with ten to twelve hour work days, six days a week, but the chance to visit a foreign country, especially Japan -  the video game, anime, manga, and electronics mecca of the world - made it worth it.

One of the things that made this particular tour of duty unusual was that, normally, bugs are entered into an electronic database accessible via computer with either a local network or Internet connection.

Not so with this developer.

We started out writing bugs by hand but soon graduated to filling out PDF forms on our workstations and printing them out. That, however, was as sophisticated as it got. This process was made even more tedious by the fact that, once our submitted sheets were looked over and approved, they were forwarded to the company’s localization department so that they could be translated from English to Japanese.

Only then would they be sent to the programmers so that the issues could be fixed.

What boggles my mind to this day is, despite the inherent primitiveness of this setup, almost every bug that we submitted was fixed within 24 hours and a fresh new build was ready and waiting for us every morning when we came in. I’ve worked on dozens, if not hundreds, of different games over the years where there were no language barriers to overcome and have seen bugs languish for days, weeks, or months in the database before being addressed (if they ever are).

Only in Japan, people. Only in Japan.