Monday, September 1, 2014

GI: Japan Episode 6 - Welcome to Tokyo

Hi friends!

I am back to blogging from home sweet home in the states. Now that I'm finally over jet lag and back to my old routine, I decided to throw together one last video from my time in Japan. My apologies for not getting this up sooner, but this last semester of graduate school has already got me nice and busy. 

For my last episode, I kept things short and sweet! All of the footage below was taken during my two different side trips to Tokyo. If you aren't familiar with the layout of the city, Tokyo is split into many different neighborhoods. I pieced together some interesting tidbits from Akihabara, Asakusa, Harajuku and Shinjuku. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Tokyo is a weirdly wonderful city with so much to offer people from all walks of life.



It's a little bittersweet that I will no longer be posting content from Japan, but I sincerely thank everyone who has taken the time to follow my journey. Also, if you have any questions about where I went and what I did, feel free to ask in the comments. Between this summer and my trip in 2012, I actually feel pretty confident about helping others get the most out of their own adventures. After all, I've got that Yamanote Line down to a science!

Until next time :)
-Sarah

Thursday, July 31, 2014

GI: Japan Episode 5 - Sado Holiday

こんにちは!

I'm back with non-stop riveting video action from the land of the rising sun. This time, you get to see footage from outside Niigata!

Marine Day or "Umi no Hi" is a (fairly new) national holiday in Japan that celebrates the ocean and its important role in Japanese society. Since I was lucky enough to have the day off, I set off on an adventure to Sado Island with our lovely guest star, Rumi. Sado is a short(ish) ferry ride north of Niigata. You can get there in a flash if you're willing to pay extra, but we decided to go with the cheaper option, which took about three hours. It didn't end up feeling very long, because I managed to take a solid nap on the way there and back. Rumi's friend, Taketo-san, grew up on Sado and graciously volunteered to act as our tour guide once we reached the island. I really can't imagine tackling Sado as a lone tourist, since everything is so spread out and driving is the best way to see it all. Basically, we were extremely lucky to have some help! 

In the video below, I've pieced together parts of the day using a combination of the YouTube editor and Sony Movie Studio. I really wish that I could produce much fancier material right now, but my camera is subpar to begin with and my computer regularly sounds like it is going to jet off into outerspace. Hopefully you can all still appreciate Sado for its beautiful and peaceful environment. Weirdly enough, my brain couldn't stop making connections to video games as we travelled throughout the island. Some of my comparisons might seem like a bit of a stretch, but since it's my imagination (and my blog!), I'll do as I please.



If you have any questions about the different spots we visited, feel free to ask in the comments. Also, I'm sad to report that my cat friendship couldn't make it all the way. Long-distance relationships are just too hard :P 

またね,
-Girl Informer

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Take control online, land the gig offline

Hi friends!

I hope you've been enjoying my summer blogging thus far. I decided to take a quick break from the videos but no need to worry! I'll be back with my goofball self very soon. For now, I'd like to write up my response to an interesting question posed by the community manager at Webucator:  

What skill do you think is essential for success in today's job market? 

Image via College Times
*Full disclosure: Webucator is an online learning company. They asked me to contribute to their "Most Marketable Skill" blogging campaign for current and future job seekers. While I've never used the company's services, I absolutely commend anyone looking to expand their skillset, particularly in the technology sector. Besides, I'll be diving full force into the job hunt very soon, so this couldn't have come at a better time. Please note that I did not receive any sort of compensation for this post. Not even cookies! ^_^ 

Of course, I have to answer this question in the context of the video game industry, since it's where I personally plan to make a living. However, I think my answer is applicable to just about any other field. To abruptly break the suspense, I would have to go with a strong online presence. Big surprise coming from me, right? I literally eat, sleep and breathe social media. So let's go ahead and explore why I think your online identity is so important, particularly in the realm of gaming. 

My first argument is sort of generic but fairly obvious when it comes to the job search. Whether you chose to believe it or not, employers will be looking for you online once you begin to show interest. It's painfully easy to do a quick Google search and find out if 1) the person on your resume and cover letter actually exists in the way that you have written them and 2) your past behavior or current activity falls in line with company values (i.e. time to dump the Facebook party photos or at least use the appropriate privacy settings). And these are just the bare minimum of what an employer might investigate using the internet. We can say it's not right but that doesn't mean it's not going to happen.

Do you really just want to be an egg?
So if someone is looking for you online, why not give them the absolute best impression possible? I think this is insanely important if you aim to work in any creative or media-related industry. Especially when many openings now call for "social media" on the list of required or preferred skills. As Schawbel with Forbes points out, your online profile might soon replace a resume altogether. I've already seen moves toward this trend. For example, many applicant systems allow users to pull information from various social media platforms. It's one reason that I use my LinkedIn profile as a pseudo-digital portfolio. I've heard others argue that simply having zero presence is sufficient, but I have to respectfully disagree. Actually, I have to adamantly disagree.

Image via Kotaku
It all comes down to opportunity, and this is where things really tie back to the industry in which a potential job candidate plans to work. Without a well-crafted online identity, you miss out on the chance to share your voice and become a subject-matter expert. As an individual who hopes to leave a big mark in games, I've really had to develop a thick skin. From a small argument (maybe the best installment in the Final Fantasy series) to serious issues that get your blood boiling (just read the comments on any article covering gender representation in games), people are going to disagree with you. Despite this, I've actually felt empowered by sharing my thoughts or joining the conversation via social media. I know that my voice is valid, and I can hold my own with people in this industry. In many cases, this online confidence actually makes offline interactions, such as a job interview or networking event, feel much more natural.

While I think people are increasingly starting to recognize that taking control of your online self is a worthwhile cause, they forget that it can also be an enjoyable experience. Recently, I attended a gaming panel on "breaking into the industry" where one of the speakers mentioned that hopefuls should be "making" something every single day (note: I believe it was Ed Fries at Momocon, but my memory is a little fuzzy since he was a guest at both this convention and the DICE Summit). If you're not a game developer or artist like me, social media is the ideal place to turn. You can write, you can share and you can show your passion in a vibrant space with like-minded individuals. I can guarantee that this enthusiasm will give you an edge in the hiring process.  

Big thanks again to Bob at Webucator for the bit of blogging inspiration! It's quite an interesting campaign they've got going, and I encourage you to check out the other contributions on Twitter. You can also hop on over to their site for free tutorials. According to my conversation with Bob, these tutorials feature some of the most important aspects of the company's self-paced and instructer-led courses. Plus, the company runs an ongoing free course promotion focused on different programs within Microsoft Office. Again, I can't personally testify to these services, but the courses appear to be very thorough and free is always awesome!


Until next time,
-Girl Informer

Saturday, July 5, 2014

GI: Japan Episode 4 - Vintage toys and lots of noise

こんにちは! 

I've got a few more quick videos for all of you. First, my inner dork had a minor freakout over all of the cool toys being housed at Niigata's Manga Animation Museum. While the actual museum was closed at the time we stopped by, I was still able to gawk at all of these goodies. Feel free to take pleasure from my nerdiness :) 

Second, I've got an unexpected video of some good old fashioned fireworks (let's call it a belated Fourth of July homage). A few weeks ago, I visited Bandaibashi - a famous bridge in Niigata. It's a fantastic local spot and luckily some sort of event also made things very festive.


Next weekend, I'm actually headed to Yokohama for a music festival. I'm ridiculously excited and can't wait to share the experience with everyone soon. 

またね,
-Girl Informer

GI: Japan Episode 3 - Good health, good fortune... good marriage?

こんにちは!

Things have been plenty busy on my side of the world, but I've still got lots of video to share. We've even got a special guest this time around - my friend Rumi! The two of us ventured to a local shrine in Hakusan and took advantage of the beautiful scenery. It was actually really relaxing to be in such a calm and peaceful environment compared to the hustle and bustle of my daily commute.



I didn't get the chance to show off this area, but the lotus pond was amazing. So many flowers were just itching to bloom! 


It was a little difficult to find information on this purification ritual online, but you can check out this blog for more details. Here's hoping it will bring good health and fortune to my life (and those around me!) for the rest of the year :) 


Last but not least, I tried my absolute best to get this routine down correctly. Hopefully I paid my respects well enough. Hakusan Jinja (Shrine) is home to the god of marriage, after all :P


Make sure to keep an eye out for more videos!

またね,
-Girl Informer

Thursday, June 12, 2014

GI: Japan Episode 2 - The daily grind

Hello again friends! 

I'm excited to share two more video installments for my GI: Japan series. In the first video, I show you my morning walk to the neighborhood train station, while the latter follows my trek from the office to Niigata Station. Before you take a look, I wanted to give a quick disclaimer that I did not intend for any of my videos (past, present or future) to be fancy in any form.  My technical capabilities are very limited here, and my goal is simply to give a "slice of life" glance at Niigata. Other than that, enjoy the silliness!





I have some more videos in the works and should post them within the next two weeks. However, uploading has been much more of a pain than I expected, so please excuse any sort of delay.

 Stay tuned :) 
-Girl Informer

Friday, June 6, 2014

GI: Japan Episode 1 - Faith in humanity restored

Hello friends!

I've officially posted the first episode for my Girl Informer in Japan series. It was certainly not the subject matter that I was expecting to cover in my inaugural video, but that's how things usually seem to work out.



As mentioned in the video description, I was able to snap some pictures with/of my saviors. Pics or it didn't happen, right? Well you can check out the adorable duo below :)


I've already recorded some more short episodes and will try to upload them as soon as possible. For now, it's the weekend and I'm going to enjoy myself. Maybe even check out a local festival? Stay tuned!

Until next time,
-Girl Informer