Wider Scope

A Wisconsin Writer in Tokyo

local scores gig translating video games

Katie Venit |

BEN FREUND ENJOYS JAPANESE BOOKS ABOUT TEDDY BEARS. The local man is working at Square Enix in Japan.

Originally hailing from a farm between Fall Creek and Eau Claire, former V1 contributor Ben Freund has gone the opposite direction and is now living in the Tokyo megatropolis. For the past eight months this intrepid explorer has been working for Square Enix, the Japanese video game company most famous for its behemoth Final Fantasy series. Basically he helps out with translating to English in games, press releases, instruction manuals, websites, and interviews, either for clarification or just to appeal more to Western humor and tastes. “Sometimes the Japanese staff are aware that they are being interviewed for a Western audience, and they’ll try to throw in Americanisms,” he explained. “For the past year, it has been popular to say ‘Yes, we can!’ at any opportunity, whether it makes sense or not.”

After high school in Eau Claire, college at UW-Madison, and some post-graduating interning, Ben had amassed a heap of intern experience in publishing, so he started a wide search on internet for jobs that would allow him to continue in that line. “I wasn’t picky; I even got excited about the prospect of a listing for a greeting card editor in Colorado.” He got the most positive results, but not offers, from the kinds of places he had dreamed of working for, such as writing or editing for video game companies. So he focused his energies there and eventually found Square Enix. “I was really into animé and all that stuff when I was younger, and even though I’d failed Japanese in college (got a pity pass for coming in after class all the time, but I just couldn’t keep anything in my head) and moved on to other interests, I think it still counts as a dream come true.”