Greetings, Earthlings – and other Siliconera readers!
My name is Tom Lipschultz, and I’m a localization specialist at XSEED Games. I’m also XSEED’s resident Falcom fanboy, since long before getting this job…which makes it all the more awesome that I’m now the dude in charge of all the text you read when you play our Ys releases!
Which begs the question: How does one wind up getting paid for haphazardly throwing Castlevania references into games he loves?
Well…let’s find out, shall we?
First things first, you’ll need to learn Japanese (assuming you’re interested in localization, anyway). College classes are probably the best place to start, but there are also plenty of correspondence courses out there, too…and you should never underestimate the value of an import RPG and/or untranslated anime DVD! I learned half my Japanese through college, and taught myself the other half by playing an eclectic assortment of games including PopoloCrois Monogatari I & II, Xenosaga Episode I, Moon: Remix RPG Adventure and Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, all in Japanese.
Next, build up a portfolio. I did a two-year stint as an assistant English teacher in Japan through the JET Programme (an experience I would heartily recommend to anyone who wants to earn a living in localization – though I hear JET’s going the way of the dodo bird, so you might have to settle for an eikaiwa position (look it up!)), then a bit of freelance work through sites like translatorscafe.com while also fan-translating anime, movies and games on the side (51 episodes of PopoloCrois anime and the first Higurashi no Naku Koro ni live-action movie, among others).
I also lucked into a game design position at one of EA’s studios for a good, long while – which began as a Japanese-language customer service position for an MMORPG. So yeah, that probably helped matters a little! The lesson is, always keep your options open, I guess, since you never know how handy some seemingly unrelated bit of experience may prove to be in the end.
Finally, become very, very active in the gaming community. Write eloquently-written game reviews, post on message boards and email game companies like an annoying git whenever something new is announced that you’d really, really like to see one of them release (but make sure to use polite language, proper grammar and lots of compelling arguments as to why you think Game A would be a worthwhile investment for Company B – regardless of appearances, your emails ARE being read by someone, and if that someone is impressed with you, he/she/it WILL remember your name!).
Oh, and send out your resume. EVERYWHERE. Don’t be picky – just plop that baby down whenever and wherever you can! Staple it to prospective employers’ foreheads, if you must – just as long as you don’t draw TOO much blood in the process!
Eventually, you might just get lucky and have a company like XSEED Games take note of your crazy fandom for something they’ve recently acquired…and with all your other qualifications and such, they might just be like, “BRING US THIS MAN/WOMAN/OTHER!” And then in you go!
I count myself very, very lucky to have gotten where I am, and I hope my dedication to the Ys titles shines through. I was still getting my feet wet with Ys SEVEN, but I really fell into a good groove with Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys I & II Chronicles, and I really can’t wait for all y’all to play them, and review them and LOVE THEM AS IF THEY WERE YOUR CHILDREN. Because let me tell you, I’m really proud of my editing on them, and I think any and all Ys fans are going to be absolutely thrilled with how they turned out. And I hope to see more fans such as myself get hired by game companies in the future, because I think dedication makes all the difference between quality work and soulless corporate mash.
Felghana’s release is today, folks. Don’t forget to pick up your copy! I want to read some glowing reviews before the week is out…so get to it! Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!