2019 GDCAs to honor veteran Sega game dev Rieko Kodama with Pioneer Award

Rieko Kodama will receive the GDCA 2018 Pioneer Award for her efforts in video game artistry, direction, and production over the last three decades.


Game development can be a tricky, complicated affair, and seeing a big project through from pitch to launch involves more effort than many might realize. That's one of the reasons why the crew at the Game Developer's Choice Awards offers the Pioneer Award, which "honors breakthrough tech and game design milestones" for some of the industry's top talents. With GDCA 2019 fast approaching, the team has at last indicated who will receive this year's Pioneer Award, and it's Sega's own legendary developer Rieko Kodama.

A press release for the announcement says the "GDCA will recognize Kodama for her career in game development, spanning more than three decades, including her work on some of the most beloved titles in SEGA’s classic games library, from Phantasy Star through Alex Kidd to Skies of Arcadia and beyond."

Kodama made an early name for herself as one of the first female artists in the industry, and her success will come as no surprise to those who recognize her work. One of her first big projects was on Phantasy Star, released in 1987 for the Sega Master System, and she went on create artwork for games like Altered Beast, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, and Mystic Defender. In the mid 90s she would oversee all development of Magic Knight Rayearth before pivoting to development on Skies of Arcadia, arguably the finest RPG to release for the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast. She now works as the lead producer of the Sega Ages series of classic game collections.

Rieko Kodama
Rieko Kodama

According to Katie Stern, general manager of the Game Develoers Conference, Kodama deserves the Pioneer Award for her dedication to bringing joy to players across the world.

“After decades spent developing some of SEGA’s most indelible classics, Kodama-san could easily rest on her laurels," Stern said. "[But] instead [she] has dedicated herself to creating games that transcend gender and generations to give us countless hours of joy. This award is a ‘thank you’ to Kodama-san and all creators who work so hard to achieve greatness.”

Rieko Kodama will be honored with the 2018 Pioneer Award at the upcoming Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony slated for Wednesday, March 20, 2019. More information about the presentation, awards, and recipients can be found over on the official Game Choice Awards website. For all the latest news and Game Developers Choice Awards coverage, keep it tuned right here to Shacknews.

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Kevin Tucker is a core component of Shacknews' powerful guide development team. For questions, concerns, tips, or to share constructive criticism, he can be reached on Twitter @dukeofgnar or through e-mail at kevin.tucker@shacknews.com.

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