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It’s always a tragedy when we lose artists of great influence and renown. And it’s with a heavy heart we report that Rieko Kodama – the Sega artist, director, and producer who was a trailblazer in video game development for women, passed away earlier this year on May 9th (weeks shy of her 59th birthday). This was discovered when a tribute message to her was found in the credits of the Mega Drive Mini 2, and people reached out to Sega for clarification.



Kodama began much of her work for Sega in graphic design during the ’80s, doing art for games ranging from Alex Kidd in Miracle World to Fantasy Zone II to, eventually, the first two Sonic the Hedgehog titles. She was a formative voice in the iconic Phantasy Star series, designing characters and shaping the aesthetic of the world. She would go on to direct the fourth game, Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium. Kodama took the lead as producer for Skies of Arcadia on the Dreamcast to create a completely 3D RPG, and settled in as a producer for the rest of her career, her last major endeavor being the 7th Dragon series of handheld RPGs.

Kodama was an influential voice, often speaking about women in game development and her endeavors to make games that appeal to everyone, that show a theme of people uniting regardless of gender, race, or origin to stand up to evil. I recommend checking out some of her numerous interviews for more details – she was clearly an insightful and important voice among the pioneers of the industry, and we mourn her passing.


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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.