Games Personal

The Dream of Working in Games

Shortly after the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there was a story that came out about a non-Japanese programmer appearing in the game’s credits, Corey Bunnell (pictured), who it was later discovered had a long time ago written in a forum about his dream of working for Nintendo — read this Kotaku piece. I find this to be such an inspiring story, and it reminded me of how lucky I find myself to have been able to also follow a dream of working in games, and making it happen.

Yesterday (March 31) marked exactly 2 years since we left Tokyo, heading to Canada to spend time with my parents in my hometown, with still no job in sight (or any idea of what city I would end up in). It was a scary move to make, but I had faith that I could make something happen eventually. Just over a month later we were moving to Montreal, and on May 11 I started work at Eidos Montreal as a Production Coordinator for the Shinra Technologies team there (under the Square Enix umbrella). Two years later, and I’ve continued my games journey by moving to Ubisoft and experiencing the launch of a new franchise for the company (For Honor), and now I get to work with yet another terrific team of people as part of the studio’s “Game Operations Online” team.

Without wanting to sound too cheesy, if you have a dream of doing something, sometimes you just gotta have faith that you can make it happen if you try hard enough (and being surrounded by awesome people who can support you in different ways doesn’t hurt either). I decided to do this at a point in my life (i.e. age) when most people are content to simply continue to coast on the path they’re already on. I still have other goals I’d like to achieve, but I can say that what I did was well worth all the effort — and yes, all the stress too.


Let’s Nihongo

I’m studying Japanese.

Huh? Didn’t you just leave Japan?

Yup, but you know what, I’ve come to a lot of realizations since leaving just over 4 months ago, and one of them is that I want to (and in fact, need to) always stay connected with that country, whether I’m physically there or not.

Considering the amount of time I lived there, people always assume I speak the language fluently, and that’s unfortunately not the case. I can certainly get by in casual conversations, but I was never able to really use it on a professional level – even though I’ve attended many a meeting held entirely in Japanese (I’d get the gist, but could never properly contribute as much as I wanted).

One of my biggest regrets – and that I’ve told every newcomer to Japan, often at a PauseTalk event – is that I didn’t properly study that language and give myself a good base in the early years. After that, well, life got in the way, and I decided to focus all my energy outside of what was my job at various times on developing personal projects and the like. But never to properly study.

And then I left Japan.

But hey, my wife is Japanese, and we still use a good amount of Japanese at home. And as I said, I still want to be able to do things in my life – on a personal level and a professional one – that relate to Japan, and so I’ve decided to finally sit down and give it the ol’ college try. I’m lucky enough to be currently working within a company that has strong Japanese roots – both with Shinra Technologies and parent company Square Enix – and I can already see how a better control of Japanese could come in handy.

The other inspiration is that my wife has been working very hard at improving her English, and seeing that, it made me feel like I owe it to her as well to better my Japanese. In a way, it creates a sort of competition, which can be good when you want to achieve something.

So my first target – since targets are very useful when studying, especially at this point in my life – is to shoot for the lowly Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N3 level. My oral and hearing are much higher, but because of my lack of study, my kanji reading, vocabulary, grammar, and reading comprehension are all lacking. My next goal after that will be to pass the N2 test next year.

Funny enough, I ordered study books from Amazon Japan, and with regular shipping, they got here (to Montreal) in 3 days, which is faster than anything I’ve gotten delivered here from Amazon Canada (at the regular free shipping).

Japan, there are things you did that frustrated me, but the efficiency of your services – especially deliveries – was never one of them.


Alive and Well

It’s been a while, but yes, I’m still here.

My last post was to announce that I was going to move to Montreal and start working as part of the Shinra Technologies team here in Montreal, where we work from the Square Enix Montréal studio (and are part of the Eidos Montréal family). That move happened at the start of May, my first day of work was on May 11, and as June comes to a close, I’m still here.

It’s been a bit less than 2 months since I started my new job, and I’m still so happy to have had the opportunity I’ve received to work with these people. We’ve got a great team here in Montreal, and we’ve got a great team in New York as well, which is were the business side of the company is located (in Montreal, it’s the technical team, where all the magic that is Shinra Technologies is getting developed). 

And although I still didn’t get to go to E3, it did feel a bit different to be watching it as an insider, instead of just as a fan (or as part of media). I got to cheer for all for all of the exciting things coming out of our great Square Enix umbrella – and there definitely was lots that I really am excited to play, including Lara Croft Go, which is being made in the studio where I work.

In terms of life in Montreal, I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise if I say that it’s been taking time for us to get settled – after 15 years in Japan, re-adapting to North America, and more specifically Canada (and on top of that, to Montreal, with its own idiosyncrasies), is taking time. 

I am incredibly happy to be able to eat Lebanese food again – shish-taouks are definitely my jam. And poutine. And club sandwiches. And bagels.

And root beer.

I’ll try to start writing here again – I don’t want this blog to die. I also started updating my media consumption diary again.