Frankfurt/Nintendo Q&A

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Recently I have had an increase in the amount of people finding me on Facebook/Linkedin to ask me questions about working for Nintendo and living in Frankfurt. I write this blog because I want to help people, and while I don’t mind the odd person contacting me, I would prefer it if people used the things on my blog before going out to find me.

I have decided to write a post with all the most common questions I get asked, so hopefully this will get found before people click on the “send message” button!!

How do I get a job at Nintendo of Europe?

Have a look at this site for all the latest positions available and apply through that site. As much as I’d love to help everyone who applies, I actually can’t and it’s not fair if I do. Plus the fact I’m not really comfortable talking about work related things to people who randomly find me on the net. I’m sorry. Nintendo is a normal work place and so you should just treat this application as you would any other regular job out there.

What’s it like living in Germany?

It’s probably one of the best places to be in Europe right now. It’s pretty safe, clean and financially secure. German people are funny and interesting to observe and live amongst. It’s easy to find gluten free products, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place that’s more open to vegetarians and vegans. Organic is a complete way of life here and it’s easy to live a healthy life.

Advice from other posts:

4 Frustrating things bout Germany.

5 Things No One Told Me About Living Abroad.

Gluten Free in Frankfurt.

But aren’t the taxes super high there? Can I live a good life there?

Well, yes. I think I pay something like 45% in taxes (I may be wrong in that). I know working as an English teacher here is often a financially tough career, but most company workers are paid enough for the net salary to be enough to live well in Frankfurt. Some things are much cheaper here, like I don’t pay much on rent because I live in a great flatshare, and I don’t find food to be that expensive here. German supermarkets have fewer offers than, for example, British supermarkets. Don’t expect to fill your trolley with “buy one get one free” offers. But the overall price of food does tend to be cheaper. I tend to avoid the main supermarket, Rewe, and shop at Indian, Chinese and Turkish shops instead.

Eating out can get expensive. You can expect to pay around 10 euros for a meal, a beer is about 3 euros (here is a typical German restaurant’s menu) but soft drinks like coke can be the expensive part of the meal.

Mobile phone contracts vary greatly in price. I pay quite a lot for mine (around 50 a month) but asking around, most people pay much less than that for their smart phones. A lot of people use pay-as-you-go phones, as well. Check out this site for a list of mobile/cell phone companies.

The company has offered me a ___________ salary/What salary should I ask for?

I can’t really talk much about this. Luckily, Toytown forum has lots of advice!

Can I get home comforts easily?

Well, it depends what you want. I can get pretty much anything I crave from Japan (though not the magazines and books any more since the Japanese book shop closed). There are various Japanese and Chinese supermarkets around that can sell you anything from Calpis to natto. There are also a LOT of great Japanese restaurants around. For British things, British sauces and branded food items can be found in the department stores Galeria and Karstadt. Aldi also does “British week” sometimes, too. There are a lot of American expats here and you can find lots of American foods in the Rewe in the basement of My Zeil.

German clothes shopping is pretty crappy, but we have H&M, Zara and Primark here. ASOS.com has free international delivery so I use that most of the time.

What about finding a place to live?!

I wrote a very detailed post about this some time ago. It should cover everything you could ever need to know about finding a place to live in Germany. LINK HERE!

From my recent messages, these seem to be all the most common questions. If I haven’t answered something that you want to know, check out Toytown for lots and lots of German life info, or just pop the question in the comments of this post.

A Short History of Me and Gaming

When I was back home last week, I cleaned out an old cupboard and came across this – my old Gameboy. I got a tad emotional (why do I always get like this?!) and thought about how much I had begged to have this console, and how proud of myself I’d be if I had known that I would end up working for Nintendo some day.

I started off with a Commodore 64 at the age of 4 or 5. It was with this that I learnt to do simple maths, spell and other skills. My mum liked me having educational games, and so when I was 9 or 10 and begged for a Sega Master System, it took a long long time before I was allowed to have one. Finally my begging and pleading paid off but I was only allowed to play for 30 minutes a day – quite some restriction for a console with no save function! My best friend had one with Alex Kid built in, but mind had Sonic. I feel that I was more mainstream, but less cool to have Sonic and not Alex Kid. Don’t you miss built in games though? I feel so nostalgic when I think about them. Despite mum not being keen on my toy, she got me a load of games and I had everything from The Lion King to Dick Tracey but Dynamite Dux was by far my favourite. I don’t even know what was so appealing about it – I think it was just that it was quite ridiculous and the graphics were pretty funny.

I had the Master System for a few years before it was replaced with a SNES that I bought from a carboot sale. Although I liked the SNES, I never really had many games for it – 3, in fact. I don’t know why I know I only had three for it, even though I can only remember one of them. I had Taz-Mania, a sort of Mario Paint one with a built in music maker, and a third one that I can’t remember for the life of me.

When Playstations became popular, I told my SNES and saved up all my pocket money to buy one. By this time my interest in gaming was pretty low, but then I came across the greatest game ever made. Of course, I am talking about the masterpiece that is Bust A Groove. Looking at the Wiki for it now, it has a list of cultural changes the game went through before it was released in the west – this is particularly interesting to me now. I had no idea of half of these things!

The best thing about the Playstation was the Playstation Magazine, which for 5 pounds also included a demo disk. This would include demos and previews of new games as well as occasionally home made games by small develop teams. This was such an awesome thing – I miss it so much! I bought loads of games after being hooked to the demos! It’s such a shame we don’t have this culture any more.

Out of all my consoles, I think my Gameboy was probably the one I used the most. Holding it in my hands today, it struck me how very big it is compared to modern hand-held consoles. The Gameboy Camera and Pokemon were my two favourite things to play with on there, and there are so many holiday memories that I have of myself and my brother sat in the back of the car playing Pokemon while our parents are shouting at us to appreciate the scenery and the holiday and get our noses out of our consoles!

I went off of gaming for a long time and didn’t pick it up again until I bought a Wii in Japan, the same Wii that is with me today. I still love dance and rhythm games the best, though I dislike puzzle games like Zelda. I am fairly easy going with games at work, though I do get game rage sometimes – especially during Skyward Sword!

I think mainly I’m just happy to be able to play games for more than 30 minutes these days!! I hope to become a better gamer as I get more and more projects under my belt. Though I suck so much at games I do wonder how on earth I got here sometimes…

What’s your favourite old school game?

From Start To Finish.

While I was waiting for Mr in town on Saturday, I noticed that the game shop had Mario Party 9 in the window. I went to investigate and found a bunch of kids playing it.

Now, here’s a warning – I get emotional at everything. EV.ER.Y.THING. And this was no different. I was tearing up, thinking “omg, they are enjoying the thing we worked so hard on” when the game shop guy turned to me and asked if I wanted to play. YES!

So I spent quite a large amount of time beating the kids at the game. The game shop guy told me that they get the games 2 weeks in advance so they can play them and get used to them, so he was pretty good at the games too. The two kids playing against us were just left behind as we fought with each other to win each mini-game. Sadly, I think in the end, he won. But it sure was fun.

It just amazing to see kids run into the shop and tug at the guy’s shirt saying “oh wow! Is this Mario Party 9!!?” like they had been waiting for it this whole time. I’m so glad I can be in a job that’s so rewarding that I can instantly see that people enjoy the things I help create, and it makes me work all the harder to make sure they keep coming back.

Ok, I’ll probably shut up about this now, haha.

My Game Was Released!!

Exciting times, because the game I worked on came out!! My first project was Skyward Sword but since I was new and knew little, and because I joined half way through the project, it was cool but not so special. I was the main UK translator on Mario Party 9, so it’s very special to me. The project was the making of me and helped me grow and learn in so many different ways.

So if you are in the UK or Ireland, and you see that game, take a good look at it, because it’s my baby!

The Nintendo Life

It was my dear friend’s birthday yesterday, so I took him to dinner. He also works at Nintendo. As we ate we sighed and wondered why there is such a thing as the Nintendo Bubble; why is it that people who work with us rarely have lives, friends, love outside the people we work with.

When I first joined the company (only 6 months ago now) I was determined to make local friends, German friends, people to hang out with outside of work. It was at my birthday party in October that I looked around the table of 20 or so people who had gathered to celebrate with me that I realised that I should stop trying so hard and accept that I love the people around me.

The people who work at Nintendo are COOL. Like, properly cool. There are so many amazing people with so many different life experiences and skills that it’s hard not to be in awe there. One of the most amazing things is how many people can not only speak their native European language, not only English fluently (so much so they can spot mistakes in my English in an instant!) but also speak Japanese as well. How I’d love to have 3 or more languages…

Another reason why it’s just easier to have in-house friends is that it does pretty much take over your life, even when it’s not a challenging project. The current project I am on, despite  not being involved enough for me to feel the stressful parts, is controlling me so much that I am dreaming about it, and thinking about it and the contents as I am walking down the street. When we have get-togethers the boys usually talk nothing but video games, so much so that I feel so sorry for the few non-Nintendo wives who have to put up with all the boring shop talk haha.

And then, it’s good to be close to people and be able to talk openly with people who know what kind of troubles you are going through. The current project is very different to my previous two and I’m finding more than before that I have to work harder to bridge the gap between my co-workers who have years of experience and myself. Being able to talk about this over Sunday brunch with people who have been there is so nice. We are unable to talk about most things to do with work as, of course, we work with so much delicate information, so I can’t just phone up my mum and tell her all about it. 

There are about 400 people working at our office in Frankfurt. Within those people I only interact with very very few people, but everyone is so nice and friendly even if we don’t know each other by name. It’s like a secret club we have going on, where we know all the secrets and have secret handshakes and all that. I’m sure I could never get bored of the Nintendo family.

So I don’t mind being in the Nintendo bubble at all. It’s a pretty cool bubble to be in.