The speech of the creative director of Tango Gameworks Ikumi Nakamura was undoubtedly the highlight of the Bethesda conference at E3 2019.
Thanks to his ease and a few charming jokes, the head of the development of GhostWire Tokyo in just a few hours has become a real Internet star. Netizens immediately began drawing fan art in various styles, and Nakamura herself began to repost the best works.
すっごかわいいです pic.twitter.com/EIcyrF7chQ— Sand (@SandpieV2) 10 June 2019
Ikumi Nakamura takes us to the Promised Land
Ikumi Nakamura, the GhostWire speaker, was so cute! She also worked as a concept artist on one of my favorite games, Okami.
I can not sleep. Drew @ nakamura193 like that
Nakamura herself seems to be glad of her unexpected popularity.
These fan arts are my treasures and make me smile. Arigato ！これは私の宝物たちです。 pic.twitter.com/oBCGPtMRGI— Ikumi Nakamura (@nakamura193) 10 June 2019
Ikumi Nakamura: these fan art are my treasures, and they make me smile. Thank!
Many users were so impressed with the developer’s performance at E3 that they began to admit to die for it.
googled ikumi nakamura after her e3 presentation and i would die for her actually pic.twitter.com/9igFPJVsff— abi (@snugcheol) 10 June 2019
Ikumi Nakamura googled after the presentation at E3, and I’m really ready to die for her
I will fight and die for Ikumi Nakamura. #E3— Rachel 🎤 #E3 on @Twitch (@SeltzerPlease) 10 June 2019
I will fight and die for Ikumi Nakamura
The Internet is ready to die for Ikumi Nakamura, the most sincere person at E3
Until the unexpected popularity, Nakamura was known primarily as the leading concept artist The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2. The eerie monsters from the games of Shinji Mikami became her calling card – probably thanks to these merits she got the opportunity to make her own game.
Love for the horror of the artist manifested since childhood. She loved to watch films about zombies, but the film “Risen from Hell,” which young Nakamura, by her own admission , watched almost every day, made a really strong impression on her . It is not difficult to guess that this passion had an impact on her further creativity.
Zombies, of course, are scary, but in general it’s still people. But “Hellraiser” is a completely different level. This is something like a nightmare.
The first project of Nakamura in the gaming industry was Okami in 2004, with no horror related – a game in the genre of action-adventure, written by Hideki Kamia, the creator of Devil May Cry.
At that time, the artist was engaged in backgrounds, and little is known about this period of Nakamura’s work, however, her talent, apparently, was noticed by the management. The artist had a hand in Marvel vs Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken and Street Fighter V, while Nakamura worked on Bayonetta as a concept artist.
In 2007, Nakamura moved to Tango Gameworks under the start of another famous game designer, Shinji Mikami, where she took the position of lead concept artist. It was the work on The Evil Within, the studio’s debut game, that finally brought Nakamura worldwide fame. The monsters created on the basis of her concepts turned out to be extremely creepy and memorable – and this despite the fact that, before this, Ikumi, in her own words, had never worked on characters, limited to objects and surroundings.
In the course of work, Nakamura and her “teacher” periodically encountered creative disagreements. Some of the character concept invented seemed very successful to her, however, when it came to the gameplay, the integrity of the image could be broken for the sake of interesting game mechanics.
For example, a monster named Keeper – a man with a safe instead of a head – was conceived by Nakamura as a very “physical”, tangible enemy. When looking at it, it should have been understood that this is a real creature of flesh and blood, which is ready to deal with you in a quite prosaic way.
However, one of the game designers suggested to Mikami the idea that the Keeper “grow” a new body from the safes in the room. Nakamura resisted, believing that such supernatural elements would harm the Guardian’s image. However, the idea that Mikami found interesting from the point of view of gameplay was nevertheless approved.
But her invented character named Laura got into the game with almost no changes. According to the artist, when creating this monster, she was repelled by the only task – so that with one look at her, people knew for sure that she was dangerous.
Nakamura took the traditional Japanese image of a ghost – a girl with long black hair covering her face – and added to this image additional limbs so that Laura could scare the players even running around like a spider.
In the artbook for The Evil Within you can read a small text of Nakamura, from which it becomes much clear about her approach to the design of monsters. The artist writes that the key to real horror is in the balance between reality and fantastic design. If too keen on design, the horror will not be as effective; but, at the same time, monsters that are too reminiscent of reality risk being not memorable.
Blood sprays and severed heads alone are not enough. All this is scary only because of the grotesque, and in The Evil Within we wanted to achieve something completely different.Ikumi Nakamura
When it came to creating a sequel, Mikami allegedly intended to make Nakamura the head of development, but later this post went to another studio employee, Joe Jonas. As Kotaku journalist Nathan Grayson noted in her column , Ikumi Nakamura has long earned her finest hour at E3 – with her many years of work in the shadow of such stars as Mikami and Kamiya. Now this era is obviously behind her – the creative director Tango Gameworks has a whole project of his own – Ghostwire Tokyo. And now she has more Twitter followers than her famous boss Shinji Mikami.