Of all the names in the credits for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the few non-Japanese names is Corey Bunnell. His personal story has caught on as an inspirational one as he is now living a dream that he declared on the Internet many years ago.
That is, he has achieved his lifelong dream of developing games at Nintendo in Japan.
In an old Translators Cafe post from Oct. 7, 2007, dug up by those who Googled his name and confirmed by colleagues to be the same person, Bunnell was just a high school kid who declared his life goals.
My dream is to live in Japan and work for Nintendo as a game designer. I realize this is a very large goal but it has been my dream since I first played Mario.
Some talk, but Bunnell did. His path started as an exchange student in Japan, and he eventually found his way into the prestigious Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science and then jumped across town to Nintendo’s headquarters. There, he found his career goal, credited under “Wildlife Programming” in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Scoring a job in Japan is no picnic
Japan is becoming more open to foreign employers, and the English teaching route is certainly always an option of getting your foot in the door. However, to jump straight into one of Japan’s most iconic companies right out of college is almost unfathomable.
Not only is Nintendo notoriously difficult to become a programmer at, but Bunnell also had to contend with not speaking Japanese as his native language. The levels of Japanese needed to even not make a fool of yourself in a job interview is challenging enough, but to secure a job and work with co-workers to make the game’s brilliant wildlife. Wow…
Congrats to Bunnell for making it all happen for himself, and then making his dream happen for us… I still need a Switch.