Monthly Archives: June 2013

No Pets or Gangsters Allowed, and Other Highlights from our Rental Contract

We’re less than a month away from our move to Japan, and while there are a tonne of things still left on our to-do list, there’s at least one more thing that we can check off: we will have a place to stay in Tokyo. With the help of an agency in Tokyo, we’ve managed to find an apartment in Shibuya, a short 10-minute-walk away from work.

Renting an apartment in Tokyo is a bit harder on the wallet than it is in Santa Monica, as moving in typically requires a security deposit of 2-4 months’ worth of rent, which includes the key money deposit (typically 1-2 months’ rent). Additionally, unlike the security deposit which is normally returned to the renter at the end of the lease, the key money is instead paid to the landlord as a sort of “thank you” for letting you stay in their property.

However, despite our fears that we’d end up paying a fortune in rent to live in a box (Tokyo is consistently named one of the world’s most expensive cities), we ended up finding a place that is double the size of our apartment in Santa Monica, for the same monthly rent that we currently pay.

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Kaite itadakemasen ka?

A useful phrase to learn if you’re about to move to Japan knowing very little Japanese, and your name in kanji looks like this:

The other day in Japanese class, our teacher Midori-sensei helped us sort out the kanji versions of our names.

“I normally don’t do this,” she told us about picking out kanji versions of non-Japanese names. “Usually my students are responsible for figuring out their own names. But sometimes the kanji they choose are just so strange.”

That still didn’t stop Edu from choosing this poetic rendering of his name:


which apparently roughly translates to “Edo (as in Japan’s Edo period) feathers, model is nothing.”

My kanji ended up being:


which means “flowing water, samurai painting field.”

Japanese lesson of the day: the Japanese version of me is pretty fucking badass.

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Getting a Japanese Work Visa

So, with all of this scuttling around between Brazil and Los Angeles and Vancouver and back, you’re probably wondering whether Tokyo is still on the table. Rest assured, it still very much is.

We’ve pushed our move to mid-July, which, at a month away, still does not seem like enough time to settle our affairs here. I’ve looked up advice online, and while there’s plenty of information out there about how to move to Japan, there’s practically nothing that tells you about how to move out of the U.S. That is, selling your car, what to do with your 401k, and a slew of other things that I’m probably not thinking of.

Thankfully, we’ve been able to take care of at least one necessity — we’ve just picked up our work visas from the Japanese consulate.

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Car-Free Family Time in Vancouver

OK, time for a personal confession: I really miss my family. While there are a handful of things about Vancouver that I miss, really, the only difficult thing about not living in Vancouver anymore is being away from my parents and sister.

The most fucking awesome people in the world.
(Ma & Pa, if you’re reading this, please pardon the potty mouth.)

So it was really great to have the chance to spend a few days at home last week, especially for Father’s Day. Despite the short stay, we definitely made the most of it. Father’s Day this year happened to coincide with Vancouver’s annual Car Free Day, a festival that takes place throughout the city and is exactly as it sounds — the city closes several blocks in various neighbourhoods and opens the car-free streets up for a block party.

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The Last of Us Wrap Party

In game development, the old adage very much applies: work hard, play hard. Last week, the Dogs threw an amazing wrap party at The BookBindery to celebrate the The Last of Us. Here are a handful of photos from the night.

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Chopp Talk

As much as I appreciate wine (a.k.a. my saviour during crunch), my not-so-secret love is beer.

As it so happens, German brewing techniques, combined with plentiful natural water sources, and growing number of microbreweries throughout the country make Brazil a great place to explore beer.

The must-try beer in Brazil is chopp. Often compared to draught beer found in other parts of the world, Brazilian chopp is a lightly carbonated, very smooth beer, with perfectly creamy foam.  Since chopp is unpasteurized and produced without any preservatives, it has a very short shelf life and must be consumed immediately after opening a barrel. Because of this, it cannot be exported, and it is virtually impossible to find true Brazilian chopp outside of Brazil.

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They Say There’s No Such Thing As a Dumb Question

While I was doing press in Brazil, I got a chance to talk with all sorts of people, gamers and non-gamers alike, and overall, it was a really great experience.

And then there was this guy.

A bit of context: We were in a room that had a giant poster of Joel and Ellie (protagonists of The Last of Us) covering one wall, lined with demo stations featuring The Last of Us. The Last of Us was the only game being featured in this room. Also, this guy’s job is selling video games.

So, the following exchange made perfect sense:

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TLoU in Brazil

I took a quick break from my vacation to do press in São Paulo. Sony Brasil had organized a sales event, and The Last of Us was to be the focus of the Playstation booth with several kiosks set up with demos of the game. Because I have family and friends in Brazil — a lot of whom are gamers — I was pretty eager to work at the event. It was also my first time doing press, so it was great having Jacob, our Lead Game Designer, at the event as well, since he’s had plenty of experience speaking with journalists.

The three-day event was pretty long and exhausting, and there were a lot of unexpected bumps along the way. For instance, there weren’t any interpreters on hand, so I ended up having to use my Portuguese a lot more than I expected those three days, playing translator a lot of the time and, at Jacob’s encouragement, even doing an on-camera interview entirely in Portuguese. (I’m pretty proud of this actually, considering the fact that two years ago, the only things I could manage to spit out in the language were a few key obscenities, of which Brazilian Portuguese has a lot. You could probably fill an entire dictionary with rude words and expressions commonly used in Brazil, but this is a topic for another day.)

It was an interesting experience, to say the least. My favourite part was actually talking to game journalists. It’s so easy to forget that there are people who actually enjoy what you’re creating when you’re so deep in production and spending practically every waking hour at work, so it was really great to watch gamers try their hand at the Lincoln/Pittsburgh demo and enjoy it, and it was humbling to get the chance to talk to gamers who were actually really looking forward to playing the game (Thankfully, they let me do these interviews in English.)

I could only track down one of the interviews that I took part in, but I’ll post more if I come across them.

Kotaku BrasilTwo Quick Interviews with The Last of Us Team [in Portuguese]

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