Sega developer Rieko Kodama has died, aged 58

Rieko Kodama

Acclaimed Sega developer Rieko Kodama has died at the age of 58.

Sega producer Yosuke Okunari confirmed Kodama’s passing in a tweet overnight after a memorial message in her name was included in the credits of the Mega Drive Mini 2.

“As you understand it,” Okunari said in response to a tweet which asked if Kodama had passed away. “We respected her.”

As noted by IGN, Sega has subsequently confirmed that Kodama died in May, with their Japan branch writing: “We pray that the deceased will rest in peace, and we offer our gratitude for her enormous contributions to Sega.”

Acclaimed for breaking into a male-dominated industry in the mid-1980s (when she was credited as Phoenix Rie), Kodama worked as a video game artist, director and producer, and had worked at Sega since 1984.

Kodama, who was born in Kanagawa, Japan, was best known for her creative work on the Phantasy Star series, and served as a director of Phantasy Star 4. She also worked as a producer on Skies of Arcadia, and had credits on Sonic The Hedgehog 2, 7th Dragon and Sega Ages.

While generally averse to the spotlight, Kodama was presented with a Pioneer Award at the 2019 Game Developers Choice Awards in recognition of her trailblazing work in the field.

“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,” Katie Stern, general manager of the Game Developers Conference, said about Kodama at the time of the ceremony.

“This award is a ‘thank you’ to Kodama-san and all creators who work so hard to achieve greatness.”

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