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Japan has played a major role in gaming development worldwide, as evidenced by top game systems and franchises. Especially now, when the gaming industry intensifies as the evolution of gaming escalates, landing a job in one of the global game leaders in Japan could be a dream come true.
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The popularity and cultural impact of gaming nowadays cannot be neglected. Especially when one is predisposed to discussing employment opportunities in the field, the current pronouncement of the industry is implicated in our daily lives. In Japan, the gaming industry is a large commercial enterprise. Since its earliest developments back in the 1960s, it has been a promising venture for most Japanese programmers who are responsible for creating innovations in digital gaming. Japanese gaming companies such as Nintendo, Sega, and Sony are just a few of the major developers that are respected around the world.
Up to this date, gaming consoles produced by said companies are well known to the global community. Moreover, the cultural impact of Japanese-produced video games such as Super Mario and Pac-Man transcends the consciousness of different generations of gamers worldwide. Just with these two examples in consideration only, one could easily assert how influential the gaming industry in Japan is. Now, how about employment opportunities?
Game developing companies in Japan continue to create a competitive atmosphere in the gaming sector of the country. And Japan’s gaming industry welcomes a foreign workforce. In the last decade, there is a huge increase of foreign employees in the gaming industry, and various companies keep asking for more. However, one could easily point out that the scenery of the Japanese gaming industry is making some changes as present-day gaming sets different kinds of expectations from developers. The foothold that Japan has in the gaming industry allows it to remain grounded in it and continue to innovate for the existing consumers. As they aim to meet and exceed the expectations of gamers, there is a constant need for programmers and game developers in Japan. The employment opportunities are abounding.
Generally, working in the gaming industry isn’t reduced to a single job title. However, this does not mean that we can encapsulate all the job listings in the industry because there are so many. Instead, let us focus on the direct enlistment in game development. Prospective employees will acquire job titles such as developers and software engineers depending on their specialization and experience as listed below. These two job titles are comparable to one another because their roles largely lie in generating innovations for the companies. For instance, they could lead a team for a particular project like what Lead Game Designers do, or create some improvements in some existing products like Software Quality Assurance engineers do, and initiate development strategies for the companies.
These are the general roles of an employee in game development. Specifically, depending on their role in the gaming industry, workers will be in charge in any of the following jobs to develop an interactive game projects:
Lead Game Designers or Game Development Directors: They direct the team’s game ideas, responsible for putting the game concept together in collaboration creatively with other team members in executing a project. Usually, part of the job includes preparation of the game workflow, estimation, timeline of the game with the help of the developer team and even solving the problems that may arise during the development process of the game.
3D Graphic Game Designer or Multimedia Artists: They are another member of the game design team that illustrates the concepts and ideas of the overall game for vivid representations of the characters, translating the raw ideas into effective visuals for the game users to enjoy.
Sound Creators: Games would not be complete without the combination of music and attractive sound effects. Someone hoping to work as a sound creator should have a broad interest in music and experience in audio and voice processing.
Game Programmers, Developers, and Software Engineers: They have the most number of team members and are the most time-consuming part of the game development. They are the IT programmers and developers writing codes and involved in the technical design behavior of the characters of the game, and implementation of the design content and features of the games with constant coordination with the team’s game designer.
Software Quality Assurance Engineers or Game testers: They are responsible for testing codes, understanding the flow of the game, and debugging programs for errors. This part of the gaming team works closely with the customer support team for the application testing of the gaming software before releasing the game to the market.
Of course, there are more jobs available in the gaming industry. The ones above are just a few to mention and employers usually have their set of qualifications for candidates. Read on to see the main qualifications people are expected to have.
The competitive and seemingly demanding gaming industry of Japan comes with a stuffed compensatory package. Game developers in Japan earn very good compensation that varies depending on how big the company is. For example, an employee at a large enterprise’s average annual income is around 5 million yen per year. A manager programmer and developer’s average compensation is around 6.5 million yen per year, while a chief programmer ranges from 3.5 to 4.4 million yen income annually. You would have to work up to it, of course, and climb the ranks, but you could be making this much at a major company after some key years of dedicated work.
※ Heikinnenshu, "Average annual income of programmer"
Mainly, these qualifications focus on the familiarity and technical proficiency of prospective employees. The following are some of the common qualifications that employers are looking for:
Graduate of a relevant degree (BS Computer Science, Information Technology or related technical majors; some companies may prefer higher levels of educational attainment)
Knowledgeable with programming applications such as C#, C++, Java or Python
Knowledgeable with graphic designing applications such as Direct3D, OpenGL or Vulkan
Informed with sophisticated computer tools used in programming
Experience with the field or any related sector to program developing
Capable of effective communication (English and Japanese language)
Willing to work with a team
Another crucial addition to the candidate’s employability chances would be his or her proficiency with the Japanese language. Companies may require a JLPT N2 and an adept conversational skill since the setting would be in Japan, and managers often converse using the Japanese language. If a candidate is highly proficient with the Japanese language, there is a higher chance to be recruited because it means the candidate can engage with business dealings and communicate with all employees. Programmers aren’t always expected to know much Japanese, but this depends on the company and as a highly competitive field, especially now, knowing the language is definitely a huge advantage. And since it is highly competitive, it always makes a great impression to at least know the basics of Japanese to show that you’re serious about working in Japan.
Individuals who are willing to push through with the employment opportunities in Japan’s gaming industry should also consider these tips. Programming-related companies in Japan usually look for candidates with a sound background and packed curriculum vitae. Although foreign workers can already acquire such highlights in their respective predilection before application, there are ways by which prospective employees can resort to just to enhance their chances of being hired in the competitive sector. Certifications acquired through examinations can augment a candidate’s background with the relevant fields. Here are some of the examinations that render certifications that are not fully required but have a pertinent status in the hiring process:
CG Arts Examination for design-related specializations
Information Technology Engineers Examination: examination for developing and programming related specializations
A visa is another thing that must be secured when applying for a job in Japan. Employers are usually involved in the majority of the visa application, since it is common practice in Japan, particularly in the corporate setting which hires foreign workers, to sponsor visa applications. Usually, an "Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services" visa is given to workers in the gaming industry, lasting from 3 months to 5 years. In such an arrangement, the employer will provide the necessary support and documentation to ensure the visa application process and the acquisition of the Certificate of Eligibility.
※ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, "Working visa" ※ Japan External Trade Organization, "Section 2. Visas and Status of Residence 2.4 Types of working statuses"
The culture and practice of digital gaming remains a significant part of most of our lives nowadays. It would be thrilling if one’s passion for gaming could be manifested through employment in the gaming industry of Japan. Furthermore, the promising experience would be worthwhile for the employee especially in this time in which digitalization plays a huge role in a person’s life. As the gaming industry in Japan continues to expand, the opportunities are endless.
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