Mark Cooke left the U.S. to pursue a game programming career at Japanese developer Grasshopper Manufacture (No More Heroes
) - and in an article on GameCareerGuide.com, he explains how he got the job
, and what it takes to be a non-native speaker working in Japan.
Former Nihilistic staffer Cooke also tells a bit about what it’s like inside Grasshopper Manufacture; the article has a few images of murals that are painted inside the studio. He writes:
“When I was first considering moving to Japan seriously, while still living Stateside, I had settled on Grasshopper specifically as a company I was interested in finding out more about. At the 2007 Game Developer Conference, Goichi Suda (better known as Suda51) was scheduled to give a talk.
I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet him, so I introduced myself before the conference session in the broken Japanese I was able to speak at the time. The first step to professional networking with a contact that has no idea who you are is to get out there and introduce yourself well.
I began to communicate with Suda via email, but due to the language barrier I initially did not hardly ever connected with him directly. Grasshopper employs a bilingual public relations specialist, Naoko Mori, who did a great job helping me with my early communication with the company. …
After about six months of periodic communication, Suda mentioned he would be coming to San Francisco and wanted to conduct an interview in person. To my surprise and delight, he was also accompanied by Shinji Mikami, the creator of the
Resident Evil series at Capcom and who now runs his own business Straight Story. We interviewed over lunch and everything went well.
After wrapping up, Suda left to attend another meeting that Mikami was not a part of. Since Mikami had some free time, we ended up hanging out for a few hours touring San Francisco. Mikami would probably be doing stand-up comedy if he wasn't in game development; it was a lot of fun! My only regret is not speaking Japanese better; so once again, the most powerful tool you can acquire if you want to work in Japan is the ability to speak the language.
A month or so after Suda returned to Japan I was offered the job.”
You can read Cooke’s complete article
, with more advice on working in Japan, on GameCareerGuide.com, Gamasutra’s sister site for aspiring game developers and game/continuing education.