Denki HQ, Dundee, Scotland. April 1st, 2009. Scottish digital toy company Denki today formalised its random employee kidnapping policy.
The policy was implemented to allow creative director and‘chief games guru’ Gary Penn to quickly and conveniently appropriate staff for fun-testing purposes. Existing Denki staff have had a clause inserted into their contracts which will allow Penn to remove them to a secure location for up to 21 days, with no external contact to friends or family.
Colin Anderson, the managing director of Denki, said,“There was a great deal of comment following Nintendo’s GDC presentation, in which Satoru Iwata mentioned Shigeru Miyamoto’s habit of kidnapping random employees to playtest games. We’d like to make it clear that Denki has been doing this for YEARS now and are, we believe, the first company to make it part of our employment policy– in accordance with the Human Rights legislation.”
Denki’s Business Operations team was instrumental in helping to clarify and implement the new kidnapping policy as part of the company’s official terms and conditions.
Denki staff can now be removed from their everyday tasks and co-opted into play testing for up to 60 working days per annum.
Jaecinta Needs, the head of Business Operations, said,“Initially, Gary was adamant that there would be absolutely no communication whatsoever with the outside world during any kidnap– including informing the victim’s relatives. This proved to be quite tricky from a legal standpoint, with our lawyers suggesting it could lead to tribunals, industrial action or even dirty protests. Thankfully the Human Rights people were able to clarify the exact conditions under which employees can be reasonably held against their will and as a result, Denki is now the first company outside the United States to boast its own detention facilities.”
Following input from the HR team, co-opted employee’s families will now be informed of their secondment, but not their location. No direct contact will be permitted unless the employee is released.
Denki is currently working on two original new titles. Quarrel, which is being developed for Xbox Live Arcade, and an as yet unannounced title, which is planned for the Wii.
The company’s unique design and development process provides Denki with continual feedback on each game in development. By physically removing the employees from the office to a secure facility under the direct supervision of Penn, Denki can monitor and control every aspect of the employee’s experience and enjoyment, just as if they had participated voluntarily.
“The development team always want to talk the employee through the game being played,” says Anderson,“but Gary will never allow this. There were several regrettable incidents in the early days, before we formalised the whole process. Hopefully there should now be no repetition of this unpleasantness.”
Denki’s new secure playtesting facility is located in an undisclosed location on the outskirts of the city of Dundee. The site was identified, acquired and equipped thanks to Denki’s partnership with regional and national commercial development agencies, Scottish arts organisations, several government, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies and a significant amount of lottery funding.
Upon the first employees arriving in blacked-out buses, Gary Penn, commented,“Fools! They’ll play. THEY’LL ALL PLAY!”