Talk about achieving your dream, Nintendo levels.
After high school, Corey Bunnell dreamed of working for Nintendo. Ten years later, he is part of the team that created the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch. The game is credited for the console's massive launch success, which prompted Nintendo to double its production for next year, despite a list of issues plaguing it.
Bunnell is part of the Wildlife Programming team for Breath of the Wild, the latest Zelda title that features an open world that lets you do stuff like cook, hunt, and get secret items.
It Started With A Dream
Bunnell gained attention after one reader noticed his name in the Breath of the Wild's end credits. "Corey Bunnell" stood out for being the only Western-sounding one in the sea of Japanese names. The credit to his name is being part of the "Wildlife Programming" development team.
It should be noted that while many Westerners work for Nintendo, they are mostly translators or marketers in Nintendo America. It is generally uncommon to see a non-Japanese name as part of the main development, design, and program team in a Japanese-made game, especially in Nintendo, a very traditional Japanese company.
This is why Bunnell's case stands out. A quick search on Google leads to a post of his way back in 2007. As a fresh high school graduate, he posted in an online forum called Translators Café sharing his story as an exchange student in Japan for five months. This experience made an impact on him, and he said he wants to "get back [to] Japan as soon as possible." He planned to enroll in a two-year language school that would give high proficiency in Nihongo. Then he shared the true reason he wants to go back to Japan.
"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." he wrote.
Living the Nintendo Dream
Bunnell asked for advice on how to achieve his goal of studying in Japan and ultimately working for Nintendo. He did know he should go to a game design school and get his Japanese language skills to a level where he "can speak and write professionally."
This turned out to be prophetic as Bunnell studied in Japan three years later. He got admitted to Ritsumeikan University where he took up programming. He appeared in an alumni video where he mentioned his skills and his stint as an intern in a video game company.
"I want to make a game that everyone can enjoy, the whole world," Bunnell said in the video.
With the success of Breath of the Wild, Bunnell certainly achieved not only his dream of working for Nintendo, but creating a game that everyone enjoyed.