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Mike Cash

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Japanese culture are not really open to give work for foreigners (if someone lives in japan understand my point of view)

I started driving trucks here in 1990.

Just because practically every foreigner seems to be teaching English doesn't mean that every foreigner has to teach English. The problem is less one of Japanese culture not being open to giving other sorts of work to foreigners and more one of most (Western) foreigners not being open to seeking other sorts of work and/or not bothering to acquire the language skills and/or make the long-term commitment to living in Japan that goes along with it. We tend to be poor at assimilating.

And further complicating things is that fact that practically none of them would tolerate Japanese working hours, conditions, and pay.
 

roninjapan

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good point.

"And further complicating things is that fact that practically none of them would tolerate Japanese working hours, conditions, and pay."

Good point.
 

Ewok85

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If you are seriously wanting to work at Nintendo in Japan, the best way would be to work at Nintendo America first.
 

yukio_michael

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And further complicating things is that fact that practically none of them would tolerate Japanese working hours, conditions, and pay.
I think this is what I try to explain to people when they want to try to break into the graphic design business... None that I knew who worked for Japanese run design firms enjoyed their work much, and those who sought to find a way out actually looked for (and found) design firms in Japan run by non-Japanese.

I'm also not saying that this sort of work environment is specific to graphic design, but the environment (something I think really met it's nadir in WWII when workers were expected to be over-worked for the good of the nation)... well, it just sort of stayed that way, out of "tradition".
 

HelloKyoto

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And further complicating things is that fact that practically none of them would tolerate Japanese working hours, conditions, and pay.

Then, why do you? I am curious because I often hear this same observation from many Westerners who can speak Japanese but prefer not to live and work in Japan. Is the work culture as terrible as it sounds?
 

Zaff

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This is pretty close to my situation but aside from me doing Computer Games Programming at University and taking Japanese at uni too (at a stupid cost too).

Theres not a great deal I can do, there is however one route to Japan and the games industry there.

Rather than post a long post that will bore everybody half to death bulltet points it is.

1. Degree
2. Get work in your country of residence
3. Japanese proficiency level 1
4. Application for transfer within your software house.
5. Good Luck rest of the information can be found round the forums about living in Japan.

I know a programmer for Sonic Team that was origionally from Germany who now lives and works in Japan programming. Also your programming skills need to be good. Also increases your chances the higher up the corporate ladder you climb.

If your a little impatient like myself do things the even harder way, im doing a Sandwhich degree, which means my third year comprises of a years work experience, I have already sent out several applications to both the UK and JP HQ of major houses.

Also you will need some backing from within the business and also contact references within Japan.

Ok this is turning into a long post im going to but out here.
 

Mike Cash

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Then, why do you? I am curious because I often hear this same observation from many Westerners who can speak Japanese but prefer not to live and work in Japan. Is the work culture as terrible as it sounds?

For most foreigners, I would say that it is not. At least not relatively speaking. Most foreigners work in jobs which they get at least in part because they are foreigners. In addition to specific job skills, they are hired because they bring some knowledge of a foreign language and/or foreign culture (business /industry practices). In most cases, they have better working hours, pay, and conditions than their Japanese counterparts who share the same workspace with them. That can lead to a certain degree of resentment and non-inclusion from their coworkers. Keep in mind that the above is a generalization and does not apply to each and every case.

I put up with it because I like the idea of being able to live and work here even though I am a foreigner....not just because I am a foreigner. So I prefer to make no trade on or use of anything related to my not being Japanese. That means working under the same conditions and for the same pay, making no use of English at work.
 

GaijinPunch

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All things being equal (same job, same location, same staff) I'll take the money every time. To each his own, though.

Mike's sum-up is pretty spot on, but I guess most employers see the added cultural/language value as worth it. In my experience (which is in foreign companies with well over half, perhaps 70% Japanese staff) the foreign staff in most cases seemed to be more in touch which just about everything. Easier to talk to, easier to make things happen, etc. All within shorter hours. And of course, there's no tank required to plow over the cultural barrier.
 

basuotoko

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Get in line with the thousands of other Americans who want to do the exact same thing as you. By the way, that line is preceded by another line of about a million Japanese boys who also want to work as video game programmers, and don't require visa sponsorship for the purpose. There are many foreigners working in Japan who work outside the big English schools, but you need to be a pretty special case to crack into the video game industry. I'd say you'd have about equal odds of making it as a rock star back home.

Why not work on school for the time being and shoot for an American developer? There are plenty, I'm sure.
 

junjunforever

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actually from what i know, japanese government is handing out IT related job visas rather easily. The IT industry is one area where japan is lagging behind compared to other developed nations.

However, let me say that working as a IT technician in Japan is very tough. 15 hour workdays are usual, and there is no overtime pay.
 

GaijinPunch

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japanese government is handing out IT related job visas rather easily.

This has never been a tough field to enter. IT is such a global industry, any employer could just say they need a native speaker of X language with technical skills.

There is no overtime pay for most salaried positions (despite what you hear about so-called laws).
 

yukio_michael

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Get in line with the thousands of other Americans who want to do the exact same thing as you. By the way, that line is preceded by another line of about a million Japanese boys who also want to work as video game programmers, and don't require visa sponsorship for the purpose.
Let's add to this list, graphic designer (unless you are designing things particular to your actual demographic, meaning, you bring to the table something the Japanese do not...)* Anime animator, manga writer, designer, etcetera etcetera etcetera...

Basuotoko makes a very good point, you're in line behind thousands of other Non-Japanese who want to do these things, but more importantly, also behind many many more Japanese who want to do the same, and will edge you out just for being Japanese... think that's racist? It's not, it's just that what a Japanese boy learns of Japanese society in 21 years, takes you perhaps, 25, from the time you get there...


There's no payoff to hiring gaijin workers. A) It's taking away work that a Japanese person could do, B) theres no expectation that you understand or even comply with Japanese business etiquette, and most importantly C) there are probably very very few people who understand marketing to the Japanese, I can think of only one prominent person off the top of my head.

Like Ewok, and I had said earlier, your best bet is to work for Nintendo America, you won't go into Nintendo Japan green... Learn Japanese, perhaps you can get a job translating, though that might be taken by English literate native Japanese.

I think there is a way in the door, but it might not be doing exactly what you want to do... there is a strategy, and you have to learn it.

*I'd say it would be easier to do product design, than graphic design, even my ex misspelled something on a KFC advert, do you think you'll fare better there... you just have to design things that are interesting in and of themselves... not shiny robots... Japan has enough of that already.

When everyone is painting landscapes... paint portraits.
 

GaijinPunch

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Let's add to this list, graphic designer (unless you are designing things particular to your actual demographic, meaning, you bring to the table something the Japanese do not...)*

Bad example. I only know two gaijin graphics designers (well, one graphics designer and one illustrator) but they're both very successful. I know one now has his own business, and another is now working with a Japanese friend that started his own business. They both worked in Japanese companies at some point.

Maybe they have a gaijin flavor to their work? Don't know.
 

yukio_michael

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Bad example. I only know two gaijin graphics designers (well, one graphics designer and one illustrator) but they're both very successful. I know one now has his own business, and another is now working with a Japanese friend that started his own business. They both worked in Japanese companies at some point.

Maybe they have a gaijin flavor to their work? Don't know.
I think those are exceptional points, one is working for his or herself, and the other is working for a friend... I'm not saying that they don't design things for a Japanese market (I have no way of knowing), but for example, for those who didn't want to bare the environment of a standard Japanese design house, they sought other graphic design businesses within Japan that were owned and operated by non-Japanese. They were usually treated better, better paid, and equitably so.

If you have a friend in any business, I would think that gives you a leg up. Also, starting your own business is something that's achievable, but of course certain restrictions apply...
 

GaijinPunch

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That's where the ended up... not where they started. I'm just trying to think... I don't know of anyone that's tried to come over as a graphic designer except those two.
 

Kirirao

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Ok here's my take on this subject. I can't agree nor disagree on what the other people have said since I actually have no idea if it works or not. Ewok85 or Zaff or yukio_michael idea seems pretty valid. And quite honestly, their idea is probably easier to execute then what I'm going to tell you.

Before I answer your question let me state a few things.
1 - I'm currently in a college in Japan doing Game Programming Course ニ嘆ツーニ停ぎツ青ァツ催ャ窶ーテ?
2 - I know quite a bit of gaijins who made it into a Japanese company as Game CG designer, CG designer, Game Programmer or Animator. All of them graduated from my school. All of them are Asians tho. We don't get alot of westerner here in our school. As far as I know of tho.
3 - Are you willing to suffer? Can you handle the heat? I've seen alot of people, Japanese or gaijins alike dropping like flies for a number of reasons like 'they cant keep up etc' in my school. For some, even after gotten into a Japanese company, they quit after only one year and went back to their home country or look for another job.

So how hard is it to get a job as Game Programmer in a Japanese Game Company in Japan? In my school alone, the numbers who have made it every year? (including the Japanese). 30% probably even less. Making into the Big Houses such as Nintendo, Square, Sega? 1-2%. Gaijin making it into the big houses? 0% as far as I know. Where the others go? IT company. (Different numbers for the graphics department)

What I'm trying to say here is, you need to work like crazy to actually enter a Japanese game company as a programmer. And here a list(my list) on what you need to go through :
- Thousands and thousands of Japanese. Probably more
- Thousands of other gaijins trying to do the same.
- Numerous of Exams : such as J-ken,National Exam for programmers and system engineers(cant remember the name), and SPI Shiken that include a Japanese Language Exams that EVEN some of my JAPANESE friend can't even do/understand.
- Getting a skill that marketable to the company. RPG Maker doesn't work here.
- Reason why to choose you instead of other Japanese that probably have the same skills set as you or even better.

"I wanna work for Nintendo in Japan because I might have the chance to make my own game." You won't have or get a lot of chances to make your own game. The one who plans/makes the game usually are the "game planner" people, not the programmers. Plus Nintendo is one of the big houses, and most of the big houses company doesn't do much development anymore. Its the "unknown" development company that does that. Dev company makes game -> Publisher like nintendo or square publish them and market them. Thats how things work here in Japan now.

Still wanna work for a game company? Theres another way with higher % of getting through but you still have to go through the same hardship like I listed above. Heres some numbers. For example to make a huge game, you need 5 programmers and 50+ of Graphic designer. So if you want a better chance getting into a game company, go graphic. Theres alot more gaijins finding work in the graphic department of a game company rather then as a programmer in my school. Far far greater percentage.



To summarize the crap I just wrote, It's tough, really tough. BUT~ In contrast with what others might have said, IF your dream is that you really want to work in a Japanese Game Company(as a programmer or graphics designer) and made up your mind about it. And you're willing to suffer and give your 1000%, then after high school come to Japan, learn Japanese for 1 or 2 years in a Japanese language school, get into a ツ静ェ窶禿・ナ?wツ校(College) that offers a Game Programming/Game Graphic Design course, either 2 year or 3 year course. Do well on those ナス窶佛?i qualifications exams. Make a few good(good as in Excellent) games to show your skills to the game company. Make a good impression in the interview and show them you should have no problem communicating in Japanese. Do well in the company exams. With that and some luck, you should find yourself in a Japanese game company. It works and theres numbers to prove it.

The only problem is, do you really want this? If you only want to makes your own game, probably better to stay home and join a game company over there. Or IF your only main motivation is to come to Japan, then the road up ahead waiting for you is probably going to be filled with 'disappointment','stress','tired' and 'anger'.
 

Mike Cash

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That post ought to be made a sticky or added to a FAQ or something. Thanks for sharing it with us.
 

gruntyking117

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Well, good luck to you with that. I myself prefer writing over coding for games. I like coming up with the gameplay styles, the concepts, the story, characters, stuff like that. I'm more of a designer than developer. Of course, given that my mastery over the Japanese language is not that great, I'd rather be working for an American company first, and then if I get better at Japanese, look at that part of the industry/market. Plus, coding for games is hard work. Some people I know through the Internet mod games and use cheap engines to run some of them, I've seen the big piles of code that someone has to do. Not very pretty.

Kirirao makes a good point. While I'm trying to learn some coding languages over the Summer, I'd still much rather be the guy who help develops the concept and gameplay of the game.
 

GaijinPunch

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Great post: Lesson? Go to the small companies. The big ones haven't made a good game in years anyway.
 

Mike Cash

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Great post: Lesson? Go to the small companies. The big ones haven't made a good game in years anyway.

Reminds me of reading about a sign posted at one of the major Hollywood studios during WWII. It read something like:

"In case of air raid, go to RKO. They haven't had a hit in years."
 
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