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Games Recruiter honoured with recruitment body's Honorary Fellowship.

Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP)

Interactive Selection is pleased to announce that its MD, David Smith, has been awarded Honorary Fellowship of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) in the UK. The Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) is the representative body for individuals working within the Staffing and Recruitment Industry. Established in 2009 in its present form, but tracing its history back for over 80 years,the IRP helps its members maintain and develop their careers, providing a clear differentiator for the professional recruiter. All IRP members abide by a Code of Ethics, and commit to upholding best practice.

HonFIRP status is the highest accolade of individual members and is only awarded to those members who have demonstrated an outstanding career and outstanding personal contribution to REC, IRP and the recruitment industry. The Honorary Fellowship is awarded annually at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s (REC’s) AGM and David bagged 1 of the 2 on offer. All in all, there are about 100000 working in UK recruitment and we understand that under 20 have been given this honour.

David commented, “I am thrilled with this award. It is another first for the games industry. Recognition by your peers counts for a lot. My work in the recruitment profession, just as in the games industry is ongoing and I look forward to working with the REC and IRP to advance its standing still further.”

Interactive Selection welcome new entertainment industry employers seeking key staff in 2014

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Meet Giles Goddard and Dylan Cuthbert, 2 British expats making games in Kyoto, Japan

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Interview with Interactive Selection placed Jaymin Kessler of Q-Games

Following on from our last post here at Games Jobs Japan we have another interview about the problems and benefits of working in Japan, this time with Jaymin Kessler. Having previously worked at a number of North America companies, EA and Hypnotix, he made his move to Japan where he is now working at Q-Games with both programming and R&D responsibilities.

GJJ – Both professionally and personally, what struck you about Japan when you arrived?

JK - Before coming to Q, I had visited Japan roughly 10 or 11 times so I felt reasonably prepared.  Of course the issues you deal with as a resident are completely different than those you encounter as a tourist.  For example, when searching for a mansion (a kind of Japanese apartment), I came across an absolutely perfect place but the owner didn’t like foreigners and refused to rent to us (or that’s what was explained to us by our real estate agent). It’s really the only time in my 3 years that anyone has given me any trouble for being a foreigner. A few things did require having Japanese friends/contacts to do. For example, when renting a mansion you usually need to have a Japanese person be your guarantor, which makes sense because a Japanese resident is there forever while foreigners tend to just up and disappear to their home countries suddenly.

On the good side (in Kyoto), the food here is shockingly good and the cost of living is insanely low. The people are really incredibly friendly and go out of their way to be nice to each other. It’s quite different from my experiences in Tokyo. I also had no idea how safe Kyoto is. I routinely see kindergarten-age kids walking home from school completely alone with no adult supervision. The people here seem quite honest. Someone had dropped a 500 yen coin that I found, so I put it on top of a trunk box. I came back a week later and no one had taken it.

GJJ – Have there been any unanticipated conflicts or issues caused in the workplace through cultural differences?

JK – The only thing I can think of is that we had a Japanese member of the staff that used to sleep at his desk during the day. I was told that it’s semi-normal for some people at Japanese companies to sleep at their desks (a sign of how hard they work?) but it just seemed incredibly bothersome to me.

Also, I am sure that I unknowingly do rude things all the time, but my Japanese coworkers are quite forgiving and don’t tell me when I do. I could see things being much harder and problematic at a non-gaming company. Because Q-Games consists of a bunch of… eclectics… working at a gaming company where no one wears suits to work, there tends to be more joking around and things are far less formal than at other companies. Also, because we’re a small company, we’re all friends, which really helps a lot as well. I think that kind of environment lowers tension a little and makes most cultural misunderstandings kinda funny.

GJJ – What have been the benefit of working for a Japanese company and Japanese colleges?

JK – The main benefit of working at a Japanese company is that you get to live in Japan. The main benefit of working with Japanese coworkers is that they help you practice your Japanese. Also they are great at parties.

GJJ – Is there any advice you would offer to people wanting to work in Japan, or actually on their way to work in Japan?

JK – Keep in mind that Japanese skill is important but it alone won’t get you hired. It’s difficult and expensive to bring a foreigner to Japan, so the candidate’s skill level would have to justify the extra hassle. If you think you can get in on Japanese ability alone, there is an entire island of people who probably have you beat.

Once you do get here, the best thing you can do is not to try to forcibly continue your old lifestyle. A lot of people throw tantrums when they find that certain things they used to eat every day are more expensive here, or certain types of clothes are more expensive, or they can’t find product X at their local store, or the way their coworker’s work is so inefficient compared to western ways. Basically what it comes down to is that if you can’t go with the flow and adapt without complaining about how your old way of doing things was so superior, then you probably aren’t a good fit for Japan.

GJJ – Do you feel Q-Games are treated differently by Japanese partners?

JK – I can’t vouch for the other Q-Games teams, but Sony doesn’t treat us any differently because we’re so international. The head of the tech team speaks near perfect Japanese, so communication isn’t an issue. I’d actually say quite the opposite; often it feels like we are treated better because of the high skill level here.

GJJ – How is Q-Games different to other Japanese developers you have worked with?

JK – I have only worked with Sony, which is a giant multinational. The things that differ between Q and Sony echo the differences between any smaller and larger company.

Interview with Brandon Sheffield, Writer, designer and Editor, Game Developer magazine

Brandon Sheffield has worked on a number of projects with Japanese companies. Though he never resided in Japan, his work has seen him involved in both roles as consultant and writer. He offers a different perspective to our previous interviews, partly in that the companies he worked a long side were far more traditional and in how his input was generally external to the process or mediated through a single member of the development team.

Below, Brandon talks about his time working on a Japanese FPS title. The game was a four-player co-op FPS, designed with the Western market. With this in mind, Brandon was hired to work along side the fifty person development staff to write and develop the story. Despite a promising start and being backed by a big developer, the title it was cancelled while still in Alpha, due to a lack of funds.

 

GJJ – How did you find working with Japanese developers differed from with their Western counterparts?

BS – Working with Japanese developers was pretty different, mostly because one of the big things they wanted to know from me is “will Western fans like this,” which obviously a Western studio wouldn’t be asking. I felt like the team was mandated to ask this from above though, and they could’ve done a fine job without asking, really. Though there were a few cases where they tried to keep some gameplay elements that would look pretty stilted in the U.S. market.

By and large my team didn’t differ too much from Western teams. Very dedicated, definitely trying to make the best game they could. I might say they were even more dedicated to their vision though. Even with a team of 50 people, they were more accepting of experimentation and trying new things than other teams I’ve worked with. But again I don’t think that’s because they were Japanese – it was just a good team.

GJJ – Did you discover any unexpected issues working with them?

BS - I’d say the biggest issue I didn’t expect was that people would agree with me even when they didn’t, really. Or if they didn’t totally get a concept I was thinking of (usually because I didn’t explain it well), they would just say, “ah, I see,” and move on, being just as confused as before. This came to a head when I realized they totally didn’t understand the story I was trying to tell in the game, and wrote up a potential new story that was easier to grasp. We worked this out, and the problem was ultimately fixed by bringing in another designer who was incredibly good at calling out things she didn’t understand. She forced me to explain every detail of what I was thinking about, and this helped both the team to understand me, and me to hone my ideas. Once we got past that rough spot, things really improved.

GJJ – What benefits do you think Western personnel and influence could bring to Japanese development studios?

BS - Western personnel and influence can help teams that are ready for it to have better process and development practices. But by and large the structure of Japanese game companies is not set up to support that. I really don’t think Western influence is necessary in Japanese studios. These companies could be figuring this stuff out for themselves, they just appear to refuse to do so. All you have to do is make good games, while learning from the best practices that are floating out there. While a lot of technological advances have come from the Western side, this could all be done from within Japan if they wanted. Hiring Western developers seems to be more of a crutch, or a way to placate management than anything.

In my case, I was hired because they wanted a story written in English, because they wanted to make an FPS, and so of course Western markets would be the target. They weren’t hiring me because I’m some genius who was going to teach them how to succeed. I was hired as part of a team that knew what it was doing, but who also wanted to bounce ideas off someone who lived and breathed that market. Makes total sense, in that case.

GJJ – Sorry, I was thinking more of if you feel that Japanese development could benefit from more cultural diversity, similar to that North America and Europe has always enjoyed with its more open boarders?

BS – I think any industry could benefit from cultural diversity. But that shouldn’t necessarily overwrite a country’s unique ideas and perspective, which seems to be happening sometimes. There’s a “me-too-ism” that is happening in Japan that chooses to follow western ideas rather than finding their own ideas that work better in the current game environment.

 

Currently Brandon is working on two projects, one for the Xbox Live Indie Games and the other for iOS/Android, with a third project coming up that will see him working on a PSN/XBLA title that is being co-developed by Japanese and European teams.

If you are interested in learning more about Brandon and following his work visit his site, Insert Credit, where he regularly contributes.

Interview with Chief Artist of Q-Games, Yutaka Kurahashi

倉橋豊さん

Q-Gamesのチーフアーティスト、倉橋豊さんのインタビューです。外国人と働くことへの挑戦とその利点について語ります。

・もっと伝統的な日本の会社に比べて、Q-Gamesで勤めることについてどう思っていますか?

私はQ-Gamesに入る前、もう8年ほどたちますが、日本のある有名な食品会社に勤めていました。そこは日本で古くからある歴史のある大きな企業ですが、体質はとても保守的で、いわゆる日本の企業の典型のような会社でした。なのでQ-Gamesに入ったときはとても新鮮で、外国のスタッフが多く開放的な雰囲気で、そして何より社員みながとても楽しそうにはたらいている姿が印象的でした。もちろん以前とは業界も違いますし、働いている方たちの職種もまったく異なりますが、Q-Gamesが私にとって良い環境の企業であることは、以前と比べても明らかでした。もちろん前の会社のような、歴史のある日本の伝統的な企業は悪いところばかりではありません。私自身にとって大切な経験でしたし、それは今の私の基礎になっていると思います。ですが、両者を比較するとやはりQ-Gamesのような雰囲気の企業のほうが、私には合っていると感じます。

・外国人が多いので、それは御社のゲームやオフィスの環境に何の影響を与えますか?

第一に、日本人だけでは考えつかない発想があること。それぞれ文化が違うので、違う見方がありとても勉強になることが多いです。また、英語の勉強にもなるので、海外からの情報が入りやすくなったり、雰囲気も開放的で良いと思います。一方で、文化やそれぞれの価値観が日本人とは異なる面も多々あり、仕事の捉え方や進行に問題が起こることもあります。ですが、それを解決するにもコミュニケーションやお互いの思いやりが大切だと思うので、違う文化だからこそ、それぞれを尊重する雰囲気になりやすいのではないでしょうか。

・日本の会社にまだ民族中心的な考え方がありますが、将来にはQ-Gamesのビジネスモデルが他の会社(ゲーム開発会社など)に採用されると思いますか?

これからの将来、日本企業はますます国際的になっていくと思いますが、Q-Gamesはある意味特殊だと思います。なぜなら、まず社長が日本に精通した外国人であること。もし日本人の社長だったら、Q-Gamesのようになるには難しいのではないでしょうか。もちろん、設備の整った大企業や、数人の外国の方が日本の会社で働くケースはたくさんあると思いますが、Q-Gamesのような小さい規模で、半数近くの海外スタッフが働くことは珍しいと思います。それは社長が海外出身で、コミュニケーションの心配もいらず、そして多くの外国人が勤めている環境があるからこそ、海外のスタッフが日本に来やすい雰囲気がQ-Gamesには備わっているのだと私は思います。

もし日本人が海外で会社をつくって現地で成功しているなら、海外で働きたい日本人はきっとその会社を魅力的に感じ、ぜひそこで働いてみたいと思うでしょう。

Q-Gamesは、ゲーム出版社に他の日本ゲーム開発会社に比べて違ったやり方で扱われると思いますか?

はい、そう思います。今まで開発してきたゲームはもちろんクオリティも高く、評価を得ているのはQ-Gamesの開発力だからこそとは思いますが、それ以前に日本と海外の良いところや雰囲気を併せ持っている、日本では珍しい会社だと思うので、パブリッシャーからの興味は高いのではないでしょうか。

・外国人のスタッフと働いてる時に、文化的に何の困難が起きますか?

コミュニケーションの問題はやはり起こりますが、一番違うのは仕事の捉え方や働き方だと思います。日本人はよく働きすぎと言われますが、働くということは「集団で働くこと」が日本人です。個人ではなくチームみなで働くことが最優先なのです。よく日本では協調性という言葉を使いますが、チーム全員が心地よく働けるように、自分もみなに合わせたり、尊重したり、時には自分の時間を犠牲にしてまで仕事に費やすこともあります。それが昔よりある日本人の働き方の典型です。もちろん海外の方たちにそういう側面がないとは思わないですが、やはり多くの方々は集団よりも、どちらかというと「個」を優先していると思うので、やや日本人から見たらドライに感じてしまうこともあるのかもしれません。日本人は昔からそういった「集団」としての生活を教えられてきたので、そういう働き方になるのは良くも悪くも日本的な文化だと思います。

・日本のゲーム会社で働きたい日本人ではない方に、何のアドバイスを与えることができますか?

まず、自分の国の文化を押し付けないことだと思います。文化が違うのはあたりまえなので、それを受け入れればきっとうまくいくのではないでしょうか。日本には、「郷に入っては郷に従え」ということわざがあります。昔から、日本人はその場所にいったらその場所のやり方に従うのが筋と思う風潮がありますが、海外の方特に初めて日本に来た方は時として、自国の文化や考え方をそのまま押し付けてしまう場面があります。もちろん100%受け入れてすべて捨てなければいけないというわけではなく、日本の文化を受け入れようとする姿勢が大切だと思います。と同時に、私たち日本人にとっても海外の文化を受け入れるべきところも多々あるのです。

そして、あとは日本での生活を楽しむことです!!

Interview with Ariel Angelotti of Kyoto Game Developer Q-Games

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Games Jobs Japan: Nine Things To Remember About Japanese Business Culture

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Meet CyberConnect2 from Fukuoka Japan, developer of Narruto Shippuden - ultimate Ninja Storm 2

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