Meet the senior game programmer of CC2’s Montreal Studio, Hyunsoo Lee! He first joined CC2 in our Fukuoka HQ and worked there for almost 5 years before moving to Montreal. What is it like working for countries with different working cultures and what advice can he give those who will join CC2 as staff in the future? Read on to find out!
Is CC2 your first company?
Yes. I came to Japan after I graduated from university in Korea. CC2 is my first company.
What attracted you to CC2 initially?
In Korea, people are more interested in PC/online games over console games, but I was always a console game fan. When playing a lot of these console games, I became interested in working in Japan. After this, I attended a company seminar held by CyberConnect2 in Osaka, and then I heard from the CEO the following line:
“Game creators are not merely developers, but entertainers who bring joy to others!”
After hearing that I was in quite a shock. Before I was mainly thinking and focusing on technical aspects, but after hearing that from the CEO of CyberConnect2, I started thinking more as a game creator. I was pulled in by this and ended up joining CyberConnect2.
How did you get into your position?
I am always thinking about my responsibilities and communication when working. I believe that on top of doing your work, it is important to have a feeling of responsibility in what you do. After that, once you start getting used to your work, you can become a little complacent, but I try not to fall into this trap. Aside from that, I think that communication is very important.
When implementing some sort of function, first we need to check the status, and we also need to think “what is the goal of this work?” “who are we doing it for?” and “how can we make it more accessible for other staff?” It’s not always possible to gain these answers on your own, and you also need to be aware of sharing your intention with other staff so as to prevent a large amount of fixes being required. In this sense, communication becomes very important.
―understanding others and then conveying one’s own thoughts so that they could be understood―
What have you struggled with while working for a Japanese company?
For me the biggest struggle was conveying my opinions in Japanese so that other staff could understand my point of view. Right now I don’t have too many issues in this regard, but when I first arrived at CyberConnect2, my Japanese level wasn’t too high (particularly with industry or technical terms), and it was also difficult to understand others. In that sense, understanding others and then conveying one’s own thoughts so that they could be understood were the most difficult things for me. At that time a lot of people told me to do it at my own pace. I was encouraged by their words and was able to do my best.
What are the misconceptions you’ve had about working in Japan or in CC2?
It was scary to begin with as I had never spoken to anyone from Japan before I arrived. However, everyone was really nice when I was finally there, and I realized there was nothing to be afraid of at all.
How much Japanese did you know before coming to Japan?
Before I came to Japan, I was able to read, write and talk in Japanese. Kanji is still difficult (laughs).
How much Japanese do you know now?
Enough to be considered fluent. But I still find it difficult to write kanji by hand.
If you could give the Japanese staff at CC2 advice on how to improve working together, what would you say?
I would want the Japanese staff to approach and treat international staff the same way they approach and treat their Japanese colleagues. Of course, there can be problems with the language barrier, or cultural differences, but generally speaking I would want the Japanese staff to approach international staff as they normally would anyone else.
I think it is best to avoid leaving international staff with simple things to do because communication is more difficult, or doing something that the international staff should be doing themselves, for the same reason. Doing this will make it more difficult for international staff to get used to their jobs. For Japanese staff, they might take on more responsibilities in this way, and end up with the view that it is difficult to work with non-Japanese staff, and this isn’t very constructive.
―proactively communicate as much as you can. If you are pessimistic when it comes to communication, you might lose opportunities―
If you could give your fellow international coworkers advice on how to improve working together with their Japanese counterparts, what would you say?
One piece of advice I can give is to proactively communicate as much as you can. If you are pessimistic when it comes to communication, you might lose opportunities to become used to your work, and as a result it may become more difficult for you to blend in with the company atmosphere. It is best if you can study Japanese yourself and try to communicate as best you can. However, if it is not possible to speak Japanese from the start, we do have a team of translators at CyberConnect2, so you can use their help to proactively communicate with others in the company.
What is the most challenging thing you’ve encountered in your job?
I think the most challenging thing for me as a programmer is probably the technical implementation side. However, for me personally, it is my role as the pipeline to the Japan studios now that I am in Montreal. I am an international staff member, but I currently serve as the pipeline between Montreal and Japan. I have a large responsibility in deciding how correspondence goes between Japan and Montreal going forward, and this can be challenging.
What is the strangest thing you have seen/experienced in Japan?
I was really surprised that a lot of restaurants and pubs in Japan don’t accept credit cards as payment. In Korea you can use credit cards anywhere you like, but in Japan this is sometimes not the case, so I made some mistakes where I didn’t have enough cash. (My advice would be to always carry around enough cash with you in Japan!)
What is something you wish you brought from your home country to Japan?
Photos of my family. The culture is similar between Korea and Japan, so there is nothing too much I can think of.
What are the games you currently play?
Yakuza7, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Monster Hunter World.
It is quite a difficult thing to live in another country that is not your own. But if you take that step, there are many priceless experiences awaiting
What would be your advice for the future CC2 staff?
- I would want future staff to have an interest in Japanese culture, manga and anime.
- Please study Japanese. Of course, there is no need to pressure yourselves, but to be able to eventually speak Japanese would allow you more communication by yourself, and then the job becomes much more fun and fulfilling.
- It is quite a difficult thing to live in another country that is not your own. But if you take that step, there are many priceless experiences awaiting, so let’s challenge ourselves!
Did you bring your PC or console(s) from your home country to Japan? How easy or difficult was shipping?
I brought my PlayStation 4 from Korea. I brought it with me on the airplane (I heard before that there might be issues with sending it separately). I don’t think it is difficult to bring something like this as long as you have it ready to show the inspectors at the airport.
How is Montreal compared to Japan?
- Compared with Japan, there are a lot of parks in the city of Montreal.
- It seems people are more relaxed in their day to day life compared to Japan.
- 24-hour convenience stores are low in number compared to Japan, so this can be inconvenient.
- Eating out is very expensive compared with Japan.
Thank you for the wonderfully insightful answers, Hyunsoo! We’ll be interviewing more of CC2’s foreign staff so stay tuned.