re: Working in Japan: Myths, Realities, Compensation, Culture (By A Software Engineer) VIEW POST


Really great article, I think I really needed to read this to give myself some more perspective!

I'm on my last year of university (comp sci., game programming focus) so I'm hoping to find a job in Japan once I graduate.

Hoping to get N2 this December... not sure if it's truly that important but looking at all bigger game companies, without N2 they won't even look at your application. I have 1.5 years in AAA already though so I'm not sure if that'll affect anything.

From whatever you've heard, how is it from indie game dev in Japan vs. AAA game dev? I'm more on the tools / backend side if that changes anything rather than being right in the middle of gameplay (which is a lot rougher from what I hear, and what you mentioned in your article).

And how important is getting N2, really? What's a more efficient way to study with the goal of communicating effectively in a Japanese workplace (focus in tech of course)?

Thanks again for this! You've helped motivate me to keep going and to sign up here just to leave this comment and give you a follow :P


I'm sorry for the slow turn around - I'm in the middle of launching a startup and moving!

I'm surprised to see that you need the N2 to even apply, but that might be because of the more stringent process involved with the expense of bringing in someone from overseas - I imagine that getting the N2 shows some level of ability as well as a probable dedication to sticking around Japan for a while.

Having experience in AAA is really, really useful for working at AAA places, but it depends on what you did there I imagine. If that experience translates into what you want to do at the new company, you're probably going to have a good time!

I'm certainly not ANY kind of authority on the state of gaming in Japan and indie vs. AAA, so please take this with a certain air of "My opinion based on my single experience at a mid-sized company about 4 years ago"-esque confidence.

Backend guys typically make more money and are harder to replace. They have the same hours as everyone else, and if a hotfix needs to come out it's almost certain that you won't be going home until it's done. After all, if a UI bug happens you can push out a patch next week. If payments goes down, every minute is a crisis.

Don't worry about getting N2 just to get N2 - get the skills that make N2 easy, and then get it so you have paper to show employers / a level of benchmarked progress for yourself. The most efficient way to study - learn a MOUNTAIN of vocabulary. Please forgive me for not linking, but if you look through the answers I left here, one is an essay of text with more-than-average likes. That should have the strategy you need. I did what I said there and went from N4 to ezpz N2 in about a year.

As for the focus in tech - I went into my first tech job with no idea what they were saying. I recommend just asking when you don't get a word. If you're a fun person and your coworkers are cool people, they'll find it endearing that you're trying to learn to be more fluent. Ask them "What is static page in Japanese?" or "Why is the slang for server down (like a fish)?"

Then write that down and remember it. Emphasis on remember. (I'm working on an app for that. I WISH IT WERE LAUNCHED SO I COULD PLUG IT HERE, haha).

Anyway, good luck and don't hesitate to email / comment here if you need anything else.


Thanks for the reply!! No worries :)

I think all the N2 requirements were for larger game companies, so I guess that may be different for smaller companies which may be more lenient in terms of your exact language skills? Not sure.

Vocabulary is definitely most important thing I agree! So much to learn :D
Do you have any tips for practicing listening for N2 level and such? I seem to be lacking a bit there.

Thanks for all these tips! I'll keep them all in mind as I keep working on N2 and finding a job. I'll also look out for that app when its launched :P

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