One of the bright spots of E3 in 2019 was Ikumi Nakamura, who made a memorably enthusiastic announcement for (still upcoming) GhostWire: Tokyo, on which she was then the creative director. GhostWire looked intriguing and Nakamura’s excitement was a hit. However, she announced only a few months after that successful reception that she had decided to leave Tango Gameworks. In a new interview, Nakamura explores some spooky abandoned buildings while explaining the difficult decision to leave GhostWire behind and her plans to open her own studio to work on a game full of dark jokes.
Nakamura begins by explaining her 16 year career, from starting out on Okami and then moving along to Bayonetta and The Evil Within games. “I enjoyed thinking of new project ideas,” Nakamura says. “I started talking my way to get into that type of position.” That’s how she wound up as creative director of GhostWire: Tokyo, which she says combined her interests in urban legends, the occult, and fringe science ghost mysteries.
Nakamura remembers being nervous for GhostWire’s E3 presentation and fearing it went badly, finding out afterwards how much folks had enjoyed it. She says it made her realize how important it was to be honest with herself. Her work had started to impact her health by the time of her E3 debut, Nakamura says, and that “I started wondering if there wasn’t a way for me to make games while feeling better.” Although leaving GhostWire was difficult, Nakamura says she spent time after leaving Tango Gameworks traveling around to other studios and learning about their work environments.
“I decided to use that experience to open my own small studio and build my IP,” she says. “I want to try my hand at an IP again in that studio. This is what I’m working on right now.” She says she’ll act as creative director in her new studio as well. She doesn’t get into any real details or announcements, of course. Her interview with Cutscenes is more a reflection on the trajectory of her career than a space for marketing.
What she does let on is that while she believes players see her as someone “drawn by horror or the grotesque” she wants to approach making games a little less seriously. She compares herself to Deadpool, saying she wants to create a game full of dark jokes.
It’ll probably be quite a while before we hear anything more concrete about Nakamura’s new studio or what it will work on. Her excitement for Ghostwire: Tokyo was seriously catchy though, so I’m plenty interested in finding out what she’ll be involved with next.