One of the very few westerners on the programming team for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild fulfilled a lifelong ambition with the game's launch two weeks ago: Living in Japan and working for Nintendo as a game designer there.
As noticed by a Redditor on Nintendo's subreddit, Corey Bunnell was one of the few non-Japanese names showing up in the game's credits. Googling the name turned up a forum post in which a high schooler by the same name spoke of his dream of living in Japan and working for Nintendo.
A colleague of Bunnell’s at Nintendo confirmed to Polygon that the person credited in the game is the same one who posted this in a translators’ community forum nearly 10 years ago, after his high school graduation.
Bunnell is credited under "Wildlife Programming" in Breath of the Wild. His story is rather remarkable, not only in that he ended up exactly where he wanted to be, but apparently following the advice he was given helped lead him there.
"My dream is to live in Japan and work for Nintendo as a game designer," Bunnell said in the post, dated Sunday Oct. 7, 2007. "I realize this is a very large goal but it has been my dream since I first played Mario."
He was posting in Translators Cafe, a forum for linguists, and someone replied that he should pursue teaching English in Japan as an option to get into the country and open up possibilities for what he really wanted to do. "It doesn't pay so well, but it will get you there," said the reply.
Bunnell had been an exchange student studying in Japan during high school, but faced a very expensive (and legally complicated) path to immediately studying at a Japanese university and beginning a profession afterward. Apparently this suggestion worked. This biography (via Kotaku) lists a Corey Bunnell as a current employee of Nintendo — in Japan, not Nintendo of America — since May 2014. He holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Ritsumeikan University, located in Kyoto, which also is where Nintendo is headquartered.
Still, getting hired there must have been an incredibly competitive process, to say nothing of learning games development, as a foreigner, at a university in Japan. Kotaku mentions that Bunnell interned for Nintendo before being hired there full time.
Nintendo's fanbase is one of the most passionate and invested — and longest-tenured — in all of video gaming. And while not everyone gets to ascend to their dream job, and opportunity knocks in unexpected ways, if ever, it's a useful reminder that setting goals and always having the will to meet them is, at least, a way of creating one’s own luck. After all, this P.E. teacher, after more than 40 years, is now in charge of his most favorite sports club.