At the most recent E3 conference, Nintendo of America president Doug Bower made a song and dance about how much Nintendo cares about its employees. They even delayed the release of the newest Animal Crossing game in order to give employees a chance to rest. Of course, this leads to the obvious question: Why is Nintendo being so public about this?
Well, it turns out that Nintendo hasn’t been as ethical as they’d like you to believe when it comes to their employees. A quick internet search reveals hundreds of complaints from former employees about poor rates of pay, childish managers, and an abhorrent work culture. To their credit though, Nintendo is finally listening and starting to address the problems. For thousands of jaded ex-employees it's too little, too late and they are weary of having to adhere to the following rules.
20 Don’t Make Waves
Nintendo was founded in the 1800s and having such a long history is something they are extremely proud of. All employees must respect the company's hierarchy and staff structure. That means if an employee has a problem, they are expected to go to their manager and not over their heads. There are plenty of people complaining about being fired after not realizing this would be a problem.
19 The Crisis Management Manual Must Be Carried Everywhere
Most companies have emergency management plans but Nintendo of Japan has shrunk theirs to the size of a business card, which employees are expected to carry on them at all times. This is vital for when the region suffers severe earthquakes so Nintendo managers can verify employee safety and make decisions about support measures.
18 Follow Directions And Don’t Ask Questions
This is a common complaint among multi-national video game companies and Nintendo is no exception. Their corporate headquarters where all the big decisions are made is in Japan and when decisions get made, all employees are expected to follow them no matter what. More often than not, they have no capacity to question directions or provide feedback.
17 Stay Glued To Social Media
Given how most companies loathe their employees using social media, it’s a little odd to see Nintendo take a completely opposite stance. However, Nintendo realizes that reading peoples' first reactions to their games on social media is a vital part of judging if the company is on the right track or not.
16 Don’t Waste Time Asking For A Promotion
Working at Nintendo is a dream for so many people and a lot of the employees make it their lifelong career. As a result, it can be next to impossible to get a promotion and if you ask for one, the answer will always be no. Performance reviews are conducted every year but if you’re good at your job, the reward is continued employment instead of career advancement.
15 Take Days Off When Nintendo Tells You
Nintendo operates 7 days a week and there is no opportunity to apply for a preferred day off. The company sets the schedule and employees are granted days off when it’s suitable for Nintendo, not the other way around. Most of their workforce is made up of contractors who just don’t have the same rights as their full-time employees.
14 Keep Track Of Your Own Performance
One common complaint about working for Nintendo is the disconnect between management and regular employees. Employees have complained that they were told they had failed tests but weren’t told which tests or why they had failed. For the most part, the feedback was minimal until an employee was eventually fired.
13 Live Frugally
Having to live a frugal lifestyle is an unwritten guideline but many people who have worked at Nintendo have complained about extremely low pay unless you are a manager with the company. Employees are expected to suck it up because it’s Nintendo, and really, who wouldn’t want to work there?
12 Stick To The Schedule
A lot of the regular work that Nintendo employees do is reportedly rather mind-numbing, so managers are forced to constantly put pressure on their underlings to ensure they stick to a schedule. Everything employees do is timed to ensure maximum productivity at all times. Even employee bathroom breaks are timed!
11 Perform, But Not Too Well
As most of the workforce are on contract, the competition is fierce. The pressure to over-deliver is constant and the moment anyone falters, they’re fired immediately. It’s an odd balance to strike of meeting expectations, but not working so efficiently so the work dries up, which effectively makes your job redundant.
10 Expect Extreme Scrutiny
As we already mentioned, Nintendo expects the most out of their employees every minute of the day. What is surprising though is that not only is time strictly managed, but every email, every spreadsheet, and every memo is scrutinized to the nth degree. Workers have reported almost non-human like interactions about their performance with no positive feedback given.
9 You Are Always On Call
Nintendo likes to make a fuss about their work/life balance, but in reality, things are very different. One team manager explained that he had to carry a pager with him everywhere he went and was expected to be on call 24 hours a day. There was no allowance for this and even if he was receiving calls all night, he was still expected to be at work on time the next day.
8 Stand And Work
Nintendo has a similar philosophy to many Japan-based companies, that employees are much more productive when they are standing up. A common complaint among employees is that they only get to sit down on their lunch breaks as the company only provides standing desks and no chairs. Sitting on the floor is absolutely forbidden.
7 Wear Traditional Costume From Their Home Country
Recognizing the cultural diversity of their employees, Nintendo of Australia has been holding regular diversity-themed events. During these events, employees are encouraged to dress in traditional costume and bring food and games to work that reflect their cultural background. Nintendo is gradually rolling this out across the entire company in an attempt to celebrate its diverse workforce.
6 Don’t Make Fun Of Fans
Ex-Nintendo employee Chris Pranger learned this rule the hard way after being fired following his appearance on a podcast. During the interview, he openly mocked Nintendo fans who were pushing for Nintendo to stop producing location-specific games. Less than a week later, Pranger was fired by Nintendo of America who values their fans more than anything else.
5 No Moonlighting
Another ex-employee who fell foul of Nintendo company rules was Alison Rapp. Rapp was a target during the Gamergate controversy and gamers saw her as responsible for censorship of sexual content in video games. One of the gamers reported that she had a second job to Nintendo, who maintains this was in violation of employee rules, and nothing to do with the targeted attacks against her.
4 Be Compassionate To Customers
A former employee of Nintendo went on Reddit to do an Ask Me Anything (AMA). They revealed that Nintendo is able to fix any customer complaint for free. The secret is all in the customer's attitude. If customers are rude and demanding, employees have the ability to deny requests and sob stories work better than anger.
3 Don’t Spam Company Chat With Kittens
Another former employee told the story of how during the last 15 minutes of their work day, the company online chat room would turn into a cute kitten tribute page. She admitted she may have gone overboard posting photos of cats, but she got on the wrong side of her manager who reported her for misusing company property.
2 Maintain A Healthy Work/Life Balance
In the past, Nintendo has come under fire for overworking its employees to the point of exhaustion. However, in the current climate of corporate ethics, they are going out of their way to prove they have changed. They even went so far as to delay the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons to allow the team time to rest in response to the industry's push for crunch (Nintendo included.)
1 Be Loyal
Nintendo recently released some figures and averages on their employees on the company’s recruitment page. Turns out the average length of employment for a Nintendo worker is 13.5 years – far higher than the industry average of just 2.3 years (Facebook is 2.5 years). The most likely reason is every employee gets an annual raise in April, encouraging long-term loyalty.