Getting into the Japanese Gaming Industry
Ever since the early days of Epoch's TV Tennis, Japan’s gaming industry and community has grown and improved. The pioneer companies such as Sega, Nintendo, and Namco have paved the way for the other companies and games we love today. From Toru Iwatani to Tetsuya Nomura, We have seen various types of inspirational and passionate creations from Japanese creators for half a century. These games have inspired many all over the world to enter the world of creativity and passion. Me being one of those few that will be entering the Japanese gaming industry through Japanese college, I have been learning a bit about this industry in the recent decade.
Japanese companies that I have the most interest in are ATLUS, Square Enix, and Nihon Falcom.
All three companies are the best examples of what makes the Japanese gaming industry so unique and creative. ATLUS uses unique styles with their creations to express concepts of life or certain perspectives, their more popular titles using different interpretations of mythologies to assist in doing so. Nihon Falcom, the oldest out of the three, while close to being “indie”(until recently), is known for its long history of being a strong influence on RPGs in Japan, as well as storytelling and memorable characters in their games. Square Enix is one of the biggest examples of passion work succeeding and thriving. During the days which it was known as Square Soft, instead of going for financial stability while nearing bankruptcy, it took a huge chance and chose the passion project, which ended up saving the company in the long run. That project was Final Fantasy, and it became a stable within the gaming community ever since. Square would continue with hit after hit, becoming a leading face of the Japanese gaming industry.
The industry’s impact on America could not be more apparent than simply looking up newgrounds or any other site hosting fan animations/games. Youtube itself has various let’s players(including my own channel),completionists, parodies, and youtuber communities for various, if not all, Japanese gaming franchises. Positive or negative, the impact is strong within the creative community here, as well as most other parts of the world.
Like me, many desire to work in the field due to being inspired by the passion and talent of the creators themselves, yet many do not grasp upon the dream due to lack of resources or their community discouraging them using third party information and stereotypes. I encourage those with those dreams to push through and do the research on their own. To my current knowledge, there are a few ways to get into the gaming industry in Japan. All of them require that you learn Japanese beforehand and pass the JLPT N2-N1,but the school route is the easiest way to accomplish this. Begin to research and learn about language schools in Japan and the requirements to attend. Along with this, begin to research universities or technical colleges in Japan that have software design, art, or programming as a major. There are also plenty of schools that mainly focus on the Japanese entertainment industry, such as Tokyo Communication Arts. For those who do not wish to go to school, you will have to find other ways to strengthen your Japanese and begin to build a strong portfolio. I’d strongly recommend not only researching companies that you are interested in and working in other game projects with other people, but posting your work to Artstation or Twitter in Japanese. Enough good work will garner attention from Japanese gaming companies, though it is EXTREMELY competitive and it will take time. Other than that, I'm willing to bet that there are more ways to accomplish this, so do your research and prepare for the optimal outcome.
Needless to say, both routes will be extremely difficult as a foreigner trying to enter a competitive industry, but that does not mean to yield. If your passion matches the volume in your words, you will succeed. Mine has driven me through 15 years of hardships and growing moments to the point of being in the doorway to this dream of mine. I know hard work and determination will do the same for you as well…
Just like they taught us.