Rieko Kodama, mythical developer in SEGA, passed away last May at the age of 58, although the news only just went public. Suspicions about her passing arose after a memorial message at the end of the Mega Drive/Genesis Mini 2 began circulating around gaming forums. This information was confirmed officially by producer Yosuke Okunari. The developer, who worked in franchises as big as Sonic, Phantasy Star, and Skies of Arcadia, left behind a legacy of works that’ll stand the test of time.
After a fan asked for clarification of the “in memory of” message in the credits, Okunari responded simply with “As you understand it. We respected her.” SEGA officially published their own message afterwards, stating that they “pray that the deceased will rest in peace, and we offer our gratitude for her enormous contributions to Sega.”
A true legend in the gaming industry
Kodama went under the pseudonim Phoenix Rie when she first began working in the industries in the 80s. She began her career as a graphics designer, but climbed up the ranks and earned her influence in the studio until she ended up as a producer and director. Some of the most known titles in which she had a hand are Sonic The Hedgehog 1 and 2, Skies od Arcadia, and Phantasy Star IV, with the last one being herself the director. She was awarded for her career with the Pioneer Award in the Game Developers Choice Awards.
Yuji Naka, creator of Sonic and Nights, also posted a farewell message for Kodama.
“Rieko Kodama passed away on May 9, 2022. I have good memories of working with her on Phantasy Star and Sonic. I find it very thoughtful that the credits included her name posthumously and memorialized her creations and dreams. I wasn’t sure about uploading a photo of her funeral, but I wanted everyone to remember her. Rest in peace.”
In an interview with One Million Power, Kodama stated that she never felt discriminated against for being a woman in an industry dominated primarily by men. “I’m not sure if it’s because of Sega’s corporate culture or what, but I’ve never felt that I was at a disadvantage just because I’m a woman. I’ve been working on various things related to game development for over 30 years now, and since joining Sega I haven’t been treated any differently from men.”
Source | IGN