【TNF Journal】Business’s New Relationship with Disabilities (Part 15)SEGA SAMMYGroup paves the way to creating a richly diverse society through entertainment

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Left to right from rear: Mr. Natsume, Public Relations, SEGA SAMMY HOLDINGS INC.; Ms. Ichiki, Vice President, Executive Officer Managing Director of Sustainability Promotion Division,SEGA SAMMY HOLDINGS INC.., and President of SEGA SAMMY BUSINESS SUPPORT INC ., a special subsidiary ofSEGA SAMMY HOLDINGS INC . Front center: Ms. Okuhira of the Nippon Foundation Working Group with “Alien” (left), and “Sonic” (right), typical characters of the SEGA SAMMY Group

Key Points in this Article

  • Promoting diversity and inclusion in a company requires a positive attitude about working together
  • The presence of a leader that actively takes initiative accelerates the creation of an inclusive organization
  • The company’s aim is to promote an understanding of diversity and deliver a moving experience to all people through entertainment

Reporting: The Nippon Foundation Journal Editing Department

Taking a close look at the employment of people with disabilities at companies and the development of products and services for people with disabilities, we introduce some outstanding initiatives in this series. We would like our readers to join us in considering what kind of viewpoints and ideas are necessary for creating an inclusive society* where everyone can actively participate whether or not they have disabilities.

  • A society in which the existence of each and every individual is valued, regardless of race, gender, nationality, social status or disability

In charge of reporting are members of the Working Group* formed by the Nippon Foundation to accelerate the social participation of people with disabilities. In this issue, we introduce initiatives of the SEGA SAMMY Group (a new window opens), a comprehensive entertainment company that develops and sells games and gaming machines, and develops and operates resorts.

  • A group formed to research and promote plans for specific issues

Under its mission “Constantly Creating, Forever Captivating – Making Life More Colorful –” the SEGA SAMMY Group is devoting efforts to creating a society where all people, with or without disabilities, can actively participate.

SEGA SAMMY Group is promoting efforts in diversity and inclusion*1 from various perspectives including through the volunteer activities of employees of its special subsidiary,*2 holding barrier-free e-sports competitions, and supporting art production activities for people with disabilities.

  • *1Creating a society where everyone respects and acknowledges diversity of race, gender, age, and the presence of absence of disabilities, and where everyone can play an active role
  • *2A company established to promote the hiring of people with disabilities and stability in their employment

We spoke to Ms. Yuka Ichiki, Vice President, Executive Officer Managing Director of Sustainability Promotion Division e of SEGA SAMMY HOLDINGS INC., and also the President of SEGA SAMMY BUSINESS SUPPORT INC., a special subsidiary of SEGA SAMMY Group; Mr. Yoshitsugu Natsume of the Public Relations Office, SEGA SAMMY HOLDINGS; and Mr. Harumasa Nakajima, Director of Puyo Puyo Champions, a puzzle video game released by SEGA that is hugely popular all over Japan.

Adding color to everyone’s life

Okuhira: I am Masako Okuhira from the Nippon Foundation Working Group. To begin our discussion, can you please tell us the meaning of the words “Constantly Creating, Forever Captivating – Making Life More Colorful –” which is the mission of the SEGA SAMMYGroup?

Mr. Natsume: Our Chairman and Group CEORepresentative Director Haruki Satomi constructed a “Mission Pyramid” consisting of the company’s mission, that is, the raison d’être (the meaning of our existence), our vision – how we see ourselves in the future – and specific goals, and he shared the following message with all employees:

“When do we experience true joy and happiness? Surely one answer is when we have had deeply felt experiences. Human beings are the only creatures on earth who can have experiences that move the heart. Of course, we could live without them, but such a life would lack color and vitality. And while each person can experience things alone, empathy is generated when we share our experiences with many others, which multiplies their power. To realize a society rich in feelings of empathy, we Constantly Create and Forever Captivate through our products and services, thereby adding color to the lives of people all over the world. This is both our social mission and our raison d’être.”

The word “colorful” also has the nuance of diversity.

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The Mission Pyramid of SEGA SAMMY Group
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Mr. Natsume talks about the ideas of SEGA SAMMY’s President & CEO Haruki Satomi, who heads the SEGA SAMMY Group.

Mr. Ichiki: Our hope is that all people, who come from diverse backgrounds, regardless of age, nationality, gender, or whether or not they happen to have disabilities, will derive happiness from Sega Sammy Group products and services. To deliver moving experiences to as many people as possible, we believe that it is vital for us to promote diversity and inclusion in our group as a whole.

Okuhira: That is truly a wonderful message.

Ms. Ichiki: Our company’s management is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion and believes that sending out this message within and outside the company will lead not only to the wellbeing of the company’s employees but also to the development of the company itself. Our company’s President and CEO Haruki Satomi himself has taken part in the Rainbow Parade*1 with his entire family to promote greater understanding of LGBTQ*2. He has also actively taken initiatives in diversity and inclusion from an early stage such as creating a day care center at the company to support employees raising young children.

  • *1A movement for realizing a society where persons of sexual minorities can live in a positive environment without being subjected to discrimination or bias
  • *2Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning and general term for sexual minorities
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Ms. Ichiki, who is taking initiatives from the standpoint, “Now is the time for action,” a goal she has set for herself

Okuhira: So your President & CEO himself is making active efforts. I understand that SEGA SAMMY Group is a signatory to “The Valuable 500” (a new window opens), a global movement promoting the social participation of persons with disabilities, and which the Nippon Foundation is also cooperating with as a global impact partner. Can you tell us your company’s reason for joining?

Ms. Ichiki: We believe that it is important to convey our stance on diversity and inclusion to all of our stakeholders. Furthermore, the CEOs of parent companies of various other companies that are members have signed on to this movement, so we hope that through our connection with people like you and other members, initiatives of our group as a whole will move forward. I hope that families of our employees will also be proud that a member of their family works for a company like ours.

Promoting an understanding of diversity not only among employees but also their families

Okuhira: So, Ms. Ichiki, can you please tell us about some of the initiatives of SEGA SAMMY BUSINESS SUPPORT, the special subsidiary which you represent?

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Ms. Okuhira from the Japan Foundation Working Group

Ms. Ichiki: SEGA SAMMY BUSINESS SUPPORT is a company that was launched in Miyazaki Prefecture. The Miyazaki office operates a laundry factory for the Phoenix Seagaia Resort (a new window opens) and provides laundry services for hotel room linen and lounge wear. The Miyazaki business is fully integrated into the resort value chain, and is an indispensable entity in enhancing the resort’s value. The quality of the services is highly regarded, and the business at present is also receiving work from local companies. In July 2020, we opened the Tokyo office, which is when I joined SEGA SAMMY HOLDINGS.

Okuhira: What kinds of disabilities do the people in the Tokyo office have, and what kind of work are they doing?

Ms. Ichiki: People with psychological and intellectual disabilities are working there. There is an Office Assistant Team that does mainly clerical work such as data entry, and an Office Cleaning Team that disinfects and cleans the conference room and other areas, and these teams are fulfilling their respective roles in the workplace.

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Making the most of their abilities in their respective fields, the Office Assistant Team members (left) and the Office Cleaning Team members (right) are absorbed in their work.

Ms. Ichiki: However, we believe that it is not enough for us to simply hire people with disabilities. To achieve the mission of the SEGA SAMMYGroup, it is important for each and every employee of the group companies to deepen their understanding of diversity and inclusion, and work together to realize a cohesive society. Toward that end, we conduct various training sessions and seminars for group employees but as a strengthening measure, we have decided to conduct the “SEGA SAMMY Sustainable Week” in the autumn of 2021 in a hybrid-type format both at head office here and online, over a period of two weeks.

During Sustainable Week, we will actively send out information for employees through our portal site to promote greater understanding of people with disabilities. We will also hold various seminars and events for employees concerning sustainability across a wide range of topics including promoting understanding of LGBTQ and dealing with issues such as unconscious bias, the environment, human rights, compliance, and supply chains. To promote a greater understanding of people with disabilities, we will hold hands-on workshops and events such as an exhibition featuring work by persons with disabilities and a para-concert. We also plan to hold a seminar for employees who have persons with disabilities in their families to introduce various types of useful information such as public support programs provided by national and local governments. We are making preparations so that our employees can watch the recording together with their family at a convenient time.

Enriching the hearts of all people through entertainment

Okuhira: These are very interesting events. It’s a pity that they are only available to the SEGA SAMMY Group. I would also like very much to participate. Can you please tell us what kind of initiatives you are undertaking for social inclusiveness?

Mr. Natsume: One example is the Sports Darts Project (a new window opens), which we started in 2019. This project promotes darts as a sport for extending healthy life expectancy that anyone can enjoy regardless of age, gender, or physical strength and weakness in exercising. We conduct darts events at elementary schools and welfare facilities for the aged, and we also hold classes for learning how to play darts in cooperation with employment support facilities for persons with disabilities.

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A darts event at an elementary school

In December 2020, the SEGA SAMMY ARTS FOUNDATION (a new window opens), which conducts activities to support the improvement and development of various forms of art and culture, also launched the “Lab for Accessibility* of Dance – Dance Appreciation for the Partially Sighted,” to explore the possibilities of developing new expressions of dance and dance works from the viewpoint of partially sighted persons.

  • This means “ease of access” or “ease of use” and refers to the state and degree of use by various people irrespective of age and whether or not they have disabilities.

Okuhira: It seems that the group as a whole is working on a variety of initiatives. Speaking of which, I heard that the popular puzzle game “Puyo Puyo Champions”* (a new window opens) supports players with color vision variation.

  • An action puzzle game released by Sega in 2018 that has achieved nationwide popularity

Mr. Nakajima: That is correct. Color is a very important factor in Puyo Puyo, which erases four or more “Puyo” characters of the same color. Prior to accommodating color vision variation,* we had already been receiving various requests from our customers. Although we had made it possible for the players to choose the shape of Puyo and incorporated “Irogae” as a different colored Puyo, we were unable to take full-scale measures to address all issues due to problems in the performance of game devices. However, as time passed, we were finally able to accommodate the fundamental specifications people sought, and in August 2020, we were able to provide a “color vision adjustment function” in the game as an update.

  • A characteristic of the eyes that makes certain colors difficult to judge or distinguish. It is said that one in 20 men and one in 500 women have color vision variation.
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Puyo Puyo Champions that accommodates color vision variation

Okuhira: How does the game accommodate color vision variation?

Mr. Nakajima: In color vision variation, this time we accommodated three types of color vision: Type 1, 2 color vision, where it is difficult to see red; Type 2, 2 color vision, where it is difficult to see green; and Type 3, 2 color vision, where it is difficult to see blue. First, we prepared filters to accommodate each color type, and we arranged the feature so that by turning on the filter function, the filter corresponding to each type is displayed on the screen, that is, Type 1, 2 color vision, Type 2, 2 color vision, and Type 3, 2 color vision. In this way, we made it easier for players to discern shades that are difficult to distinguish. Furthermore, with the understanding that the filtering function on its own was not enough, we also prepared a “color calibration” function that additionally adjusts and fine tunes the sharpness of the filter from 10 stages, and also searches for shades that are easier for the particular individual to see. Furthermore, when Puyo is being installed, the Puyo Puyo that is to disappear begins to blink. Through our investigations, however, we found that this blinking effect made it difficult to see the Puyo that had appeared. Therefore, we eliminated this blinking effect when Puyo is being installed.

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With the “Color Adjustment” option, players can adjust the color development of the game to suit their particular color vision characteristics.

In the final adjustment, we wanted people with color vision variation to actually see the products and services directly to determine whether were any problems, and to suggest improvements for any issues. Therefore, we asked the Color Universal Design Organization (CUDO) for their supervision and cooperation in this effort. Even before getting to this stage, to enable those of us with “trichromatism” to understand how people with color vision variation see things, we had to go through repeated trial and error, using special glasses and monitors and asking over and over, “Can you see it?” Can’t you see it?” Although we did everything we could in terms of preparation, it wasn’t until we had people with color vision variation actually view the products and services that we were able to make the final adjustments after they pointed out places where adjustments were inadequate and aspects that we had not even noticed. This helped us enormously. It was really a struggle.

Okuhira: I see. I do not have much gaming experience, so this is the first time for me to learn that color variation has an impact on games. What kind of response did you receive from users?

Mr. Nakajima: We received words of thanks from people through SNS and other means, and happy reports from users that they could now actually enjoy playing games.

Okuhira: What are your plans for the future?

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Mr. Nakajima, Director of Puyo Puyo Champions

Mr. Nakajima: With color vision variation, there are people not only with the three types of color vision we addressed this time but also people with monochromatism, whom we were unable to cater to this time. Personally, I am not yet satisfied with current arrangements. Next, I would like to take on the challenge of making further improvements to offer various specifications that will allow as many people as possible to play.

Okuhira: eSports is very popular, so your efforts are sure to be helpful in the future.

Mr. Nakano: I believe so. If a person with color vision variation happened to emerge as a Puyo Puyo Champions pro, it would be well worth the effort of development for us as well.

Mr. Ichiki: Entertainment through games is a wonderful experience. It allows people to share their joy with others, become a different person during the game, and enriches the hearts of everyone. Diversity is at the root of our efforts, and we believe that when the principles of diversity are embraced by each and every employee, new ideas that will have a positive effect on not only the company but also society as a whole will be born.

Okuhira: There are various possibilities for entertainment and games. Due to a disability with my hands, I am not very good at using my fingers, so for your next challenge, please consider not only color but also voice support.

Photo: Eizaburo Sogo