On Thursday, January 17, 2019, the Game Developers Choice Awards announced this year’s winner of its prestigious Pioneer Award would be renowned game developer Rieko Kodama. Kodama is often recognized as one of the first successful female video game developers, including by Nintendo Power which dubbed her the “First Lady of RPGs.”
Kodama is being recognized for her contributions to the gaming industry, spanning three decades with an impressive array of games on her resume. If you have played a Sega RPG chances are Kodama will be listed among the credits, possibly as “Phoenix or Phenix Rie” her credit name until 1993. Some of her most notable work as a graphic designer includes Champion Boxing, Sega Ninja, The Black Onyx, Phantasy Star, SpellCaster, the Alex Kidd series, Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
With decades worth of designing and development under her belt Kodama took to producing, notably 7th Dragon series on Nintendo DS, 3DS, and PSP. Most recently, she produced the Sega Ages classic game ports on Nintendo Switch.
“The Game Developers Choice Awards were conceived as a way to recognize the all-too-often unsung genius and dedication of game developers throughout history, and this year’s award honors a figure who helped pave the way for countless game creators to follow,” said Katie Stern, general manager of the Game Developers Conference. “After decades spent developing some of SEGA’s most indelible classics, Kodama-san could easily rest on her laurels, but instead has dedicated herself to creating games that transcend gender and generations to give us countless hours of joy. This award is a ‘thank you’ to Kodama-san and all creators who work so hard to achieve greatness.”
Women game designers are not often recognized at such prestigious levels, Kodama is worthy of the honor and we offer our congratulations to her.