Though videogames trade in fun and playfulness, the conditions under which they’re made can often be grueling. Earlier this year, Yoshinori Ono, Capcom’s producer in charge of Street Fighter IV, collapsed from exhaustion and was rushed to the hospital. Speaking to Simon Parkin in an interview at Eurogamer, Ono recalled his unexpected illness and the working conditions that contributed to it.
After I passed out, I was thinking in the hospital: there are so many people at Capcom that, over the years, have disappeared at one time or another. Suddenly, in that bed I understood what happened to them… The day after a game is finished and goes off to manufacture there are 10 empty desks, their previous occupants never to be seen again.
When Ono returned from the hospital he claims to have been pushed right back into the grind.
Nobody told me to take a rest. When I returned to work, Capcom didn’t even acknowledge that I had been in hospital. There was no change in my schedule. I was at home for an entire week before the doctors allowed me to return to work. When I returned to my desk there was a ticket to Rome waiting for me. There’s no mercy. Everyone in the company says: ‘Ono-san we’ve been so worried about you.’ Then they hand me a timetable and it’s completely filled with things to do.
Most remarkable is the fact that these conditions have been a mainstay of Ono’s career at Capcom, going back to the early 90s when he would stay at the office until 2AM coding game music, go home for a few hours of sleep, and then be back at work by 7AM.