In celebration of international women’s day, let’s look at some of the awesome women that defined the video games industry:
Kinu Nishimura: Artist behind many of Capcom’s flagship titles
If you recognize these characters you’ve played a game Kinu worked on
Kinu Nishimura has been with Capcom since 1991 with Street Fighter II and has worked on countless titles since, rising up to become the most senior artist in the whole company.
Designs for Street Fighter III: New Generation
I’ve also heard stories from Capcom staff on how Kinu was the most intimidating person in the studio, relentless in making sure the high standards of Capcom artwork were maintained by everyone, and an immense amount of respect was given to her in turn.
Many of the games that had a profound impact on who I am today and my career path in video games is directly related to Kinu Nishimura’s masterful designs.
Some of the girls of Capcom games, illustrated by Kinu Nishimura
Keiko Erikawa, co-founder of industry giant Koei and #34 wealthiest person in Japan
She must be from the same generation as my aunt ’cause they have the same fashion sense
Keiko Erikawa started off in the fashion industry but then co-founded the prolific Koei company with her husband Kou Shibusawa.
Keiko Erikawa is credited for getting some atypical games made, like the stylishly odd rhythm action game Gitaroo-Man, hotel cooking game Shaberu! DS Oryouri Navi Marugoto Teikoku Hotel, and deciding that Koei should pick up the Gundam license because in her words: “I want to use a Gundam in a Koei game!”
But one of her most notable accomplishments would be…
A very very very very very obscure to get title for English speakers, even the console it was on wasn’t released in the US!
Though video games is usually seen as a male dominated hobby, Koei’s female co-founder believed there was no reason women couldn’t be part of the core audience so she assembled an all-woman team to created what would be the first ‘otome game’ (lit. ‘girl’s game’, a genre of Japanese games which seek out women as their prime audience).
Koei at the time was most famous for hardcore strategy/kingdom building games like Nobunaga’s Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms that starred macho mustached men of military history. With those roots Koei created Angelique (1993), where the protagonist is a young woman given the responsibility to rule over her own kingdom, if her kingdom thrives then she will inherit control over the world. Will she do so as a benevolent queen or martial despot? Such choices are up to the player to decide.
Many of the women I’ve worked alongside in the games industry have told me that their interest in games started with the otome genre that Angelique created, That is the difference that a single person in power like Keiko Erikawa can make on a whole industry.
Many industry marketing specialists today would say strategy/conquest games are a ‘man’s genre’ that would scare away women with ‘hardcore’ mechanics, but Keiko Erikawa proved that wrong over two decades ago! Continue reading “The Women That Make Japan’s Games Industry Great”