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Learning Japanese? Is it worth it?

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Hello. I have my AAS in CIS Programming and am working on my BFA, but am needing to take a language class now. I live in the US so Spanish seems to be the norm, but I was wondering with so many game companies based from Japan and so much of this industry is based there is learning Japanese worth the extra effort as far as game development? I've looked around and am looking for not just opinions but any insiders that could say if this is really a relevant subject for a game developer when they are out of colege and in the market. Thanks'

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http://japanmanship.blogspot.com/

Read JC Barnett's blog to get a little insight about how the game industry works out here, I found it very interesting. Also it might help you make up your mind more easily.

My opinion:
If you are planning to live in Japan and work there in the game industry, in spite of Barnett's warnings, definitely learn Japanese. It's nigh impossible to find a company here that will let you work for them without any japanese knowledge. From a personal experinece I know that their english sucks big time most of the time. There are exceptions but they are rare. Also it is much easier to land a a job here if they see that you can speak japanese and can take care most of your legal stuff and they won't have to babysit you 24/7.
But, if you want to learn japanese for understanding game business related stuff like books, white papers, attending conferences in Japan, don't do it. The important materials will be translated eventually into english anyway, or if they are very important, can be translated by hired translators. And about written materials: it's one thing to learn a new language to read a book but it's completely different to learn a new writing system just for that. I went out to see the programming and game industry related book here in Japan and they rarely have anything that is better than you could buy in english on amazon. It takes hell of a long time to learn to read kanji. That, or serious commitment which could be invested into landing a beginner's job or internship for experience.

Anyways, read that blog, at least the part concerning the industry. Should you have more questions, ask them here or PM me. I'll try to answer. BTW, I am not in the game industry, just a hobby programmer living out here in Japan for the time being.

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Steel wrote:
>is learning Japanese worth the extra effort as far as game development?

Let me start by apologizing for my next sentence. There is such a thing as a bad question, and any question that includes the phrase "is it worth it" is probably one of them. That said, you have to take a language anyway, right? Well, the game industry is growing very fast in China and Korea. It's very big in Europe (where the "lingua franca" is English, paradoxically). And of course Japan has been one of the major game countries for over 20 years. If you just want to take a language that might or might not be useful in your future career, I say Chinese is probably the language of the future.

If, however, you are interested in Japanese because you're interested in Japan, then my FAQ 48 is a must-read. http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson48.htm ("So You Want To Work In Japan"). And to return to my initial comment, see FAQ 66: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/route66.htm ("Is It Worth It?").

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I have no aspirations to ever work overseas, and after reading all the blogs and links I'm starting to feel pretty secure without it. Just looking for that edge.
Thanks.

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For what it's worth, if you were in Finland and knew Japanese, your chances of getting a job would be pretty close to 100%. Companies that have (or wish to have) any cooperation with japanese companies desperately need technical people who have language skills.
Don't know if the situation is the same elsewhere in the world, but I'd wager this to be the case.. =)

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Quote:
Original post by darkelf2k5
http://japanmanship.blogspot.com/

Read JC Barnett's blog to get a little insight about how the game industry works out here, I found it very interesting. Also it might help you make up your mind more easily.

My opinion:
If you are planning to live in Japan and work there in the game industry, in spite of Barnett's warnings, definitely learn Japanese. It's nigh impossible to find a company here that will let you work for them without any japanese knowledge. From a personal experinece I know that their english sucks big time most of the time. There are exceptions but they are rare. Also it is much easier to land a a job here if they see that you can speak japanese and can take care most of your legal stuff and they won't have to babysit you 24/7.
But, if you want to learn japanese for understanding game business related stuff like books, white papers, attending conferences in Japan, don't do it. The important materials will be translated eventually into english anyway, or if they are very important, can be translated by hired translators. And about written materials: it's one thing to learn a new language to read a book but it's completely different to learn a new writing system just for that. I went out to see the programming and game industry related book here in Japan and they rarely have anything that is better than you could buy in english on amazon. It takes hell of a long time to learn to read kanji. That, or serious commitment which could be invested into landing a beginner's job or internship for experience.

Anyways, read that blog, at least the part concerning the industry. Should you have more questions, ask them here or PM me. I'll try to answer. BTW, I am not in the game industry, just a hobby programmer living out here in Japan for the time being.

From someone that's also lived in Japan you are wasting your time learning it since as was pointed out most Japanese already know English-they are required to take it in school(obviously it's alot easier to learn than Japanese since most of the Japanese I met even admitted to me they forgot 1/2 of the Kanji characters they were supposed to learn/memorize in school) even though they don't like speaking it since they fear they will be ridiculed as I was trying to speak Japanese having taught myself out of a book which is totally different Japanese than "conversational" Japanese apparently.
Well it's not totally a waste since if you learn it at least you'll know when your Japanese coworkers are making fun of you or talking behind your back;)

[Edited by - daviangel on May 22, 2007 3:54:42 PM]

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Dav wrote:
>most Japanese already know English

Not so. Certainly not well enough to carry on effortless conversations all day long in a work environment. Of course I know many Japanese whose English is that good - but your blanket statement is just dead wrong.

OP wrote:
>Just looking for that edge.

OK, well, if you are going to be working with Japanese companies, learn that. If you are going to be working with European companies, learn French or German. If you will be in online gaming or mobile, learn Chinese or Korean.

Just study well in whatever language you choose. They're all useful, and you'll have the ability to learn another when needed.

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