Ikumi Nakamura has announced the establishment of UNSEEN, “a borderless and mysterious game development studio” headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.
Nakamura is an artist and director who contributed towards games such as Okami, Bayonetta, The Evil Within, and Ghostwire: Tokyo. She rose to internet fame following her appearance at Bethesda Softworks‘ E3 2019 press conference, when she was creative director on Ghostwire: Tokyo at Tango Gameworks.
After leaving Tango Gameworks in September 2019, and touring studios all over the world, Nakamura has now established a studio of her own. While the Tokyo studio acts as a terminal where different cultures intersect and artists gather, its aim is to “transcend beyond the realm of video games.”
Nakamura is joined by an experienced team of veterans, including:
- Naoki Katakai (formerly of Tango Gameworks) as CDO & Environment Art Specialist
- Liam Wong (formerly of Ubisoft) as Visual Director
- Raul Ibarra (formerly of Moon Studios) as Animation Director
- Misuzu Watanabe (formerly of Capcom) as Game Director
- NASS as Concept Artist and Illustrator
UNSEEN is also made up of the following members:
- David Steinberg – CTO
- Futoshi Miyamoto – CIO
- Aaron Packard – Senior Gameplay Engineer
- Brian Wanamaker – Senior Development Manager
- Eriko Nagasawa – Assistant Manager
- Fumie Kishiwada – U.S. Manager
- Gus Martin – Gameplay Engineer
- Johnny Byrnes – Technical Game Designer
- Justin Nesbit – Level Design Director
- Kenan Alpay – Senior Game Designer
- Mai Mattori – Concept Artist
- Miho Nakagawa – Assistant Producer
- Shane Canning – Senior Level Designer
UNSEEN is currently hiring in fields including art and animation, design, engineering, technical, community, and more. For more information, visit the UNSEEN Careers page.
Studio Announce Video
Ikumi Nakamura Interview
“It still feels like it isn’t real. Is this normality, the paranormal, or the new normal?
“But I’m so happy to be able to announce the foundation of my new game studio.
“I’m Ikumi Nakamura. I’ve launched my own studio! In the past few years, I became self-employed and regained my health, and I got pregnant and gave birth. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic began and the world changed. At this same moment, I realized that I needed to change, too.
“Between 2018 and 2019, as my followers on Twitter will know, I felt that I wanted to meet with lots of games studios and artists, to see how things work in the world and to re-educate myself. I’ve never made a triple-A game, or any games that are considered legendary, but as a game developer myself, after visiting lots of game studios, I decided that rather than having a company where games get made, I realized that I’d like to have a studio where artists get together and have fun making games together, where they can be creative. That was the start. If it wasn’t for E3 2019, I don’t think I would have considered opening my own studio.
“As a game developer surrounded by talented artists, I think there was a part of me that didn’t want to only be one unrecognized developer on a particular game. I wanted to be seen for who I am and recognized for my work. Even today, I feel great respect for E3 as an event and for the people who allowed me to go on stage that day. Thank you.
“At UNSEEN, we want to build a multicultural team—a cross-cultural world make up of international staff. The studio will be made up of developers who each have a specialist skill, but who are also generalists, which will make us somewhat unique. Personally, I enjoy learning about other cultures, and the same is true of the rest of the team. A mix of cultures can be a breeding ground for new ideas, which is the real joy of starting a new studio.
“Designing the studio layout has been very much like designing a game, and we look at the space and discuss ways in which we can make it easiest for developers to use. So I had our level designer work on the concepts and make a grey-box recreation in Unreal Engine 5 that we could walk around and remove things that didn’t work well, exchange ideas, and decide on the layout together, just like making a game. It was a unique approach. I am creating a space that isn’t an office, where people can feel excited—this is it right here. (Nakamura points to the space behind her.) I want it to be a place where developers can come and go as they please, like nomads. It’s a new style of office.
“I don’t want to think only in terms of video games; I want to make new IP that can work as variety of entertainment media. For example: anime, education, apparel. I’d like to make a game that can have an impact on those kinds of media, too, and to grow carefully.
“At this moment in time, it seems especially important to be yourself. Rather than trying to suppress my true self, I think this is a time to show who I really am and to ask that people like me as I am. I want to make a game that shows true-to-life representations of people like us.
“I can’t say much, but we are putting a lot of care into the scenario and characters for our first game. In this day and age, it feels so important to celebrate individuality. I want to make a game with characters that reflect real-life personalities and minorities with an open-minded setting that represents multiple cultures.
“I think I haven’t changed much since I was a kid. I like mystery. I like horror films. I love zombies and the supernatural, and science-fiction. I find these genres fascinating, and I’m good at them, so I want to keep working on games related to these subjects.”