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Derek Yu

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Derek Yu
Born (1982-07-02) July 2, 1982 (age 42)
Occupation(s)Game designer, artist, blogger
Websitewww.derekyu.com Edit this at Wikidata

Derek Yu is an American independent video game designer, video game artist, and blogger.[1][2] Yu has designed and co-designed several award-winning games, most famously Spelunky, Aquaria, and Eternal Daughter.[3] He is also notable as a blogger and custodian of the influential TIGSource blog/community about independent video games. He has been called an "indie superstar" and a "genuine icon" of the video game industry.[4]

Life and career


Yu's first exposure to computer games was an Atari 2600 when he was a child. Already in second grade, he and a friend started mapping out simple games on paper, later moving on to making text adventures on the PC and eventually using Klik & Play to make games. After graduating college with a degree in computer science, Yu moved to San Francisco and worked as a freelance illustrator.[4]

In 2007, Yu created satiric run-and-gun freeware game I'm O.K – A Murder Simulator with Alec Holowka and two others, in response to Jack Thompson's "A Modest Video Game Proposal", an open letter regarding gun violence and violent video games that offered $10,000 to charity if videogame developers would dare to make a game depicting videogame developers being killed. The collaboration with Holowka later led to the formation of the company Bit Blot and the release of Aquaria in 2007, which was a big success and won the Seumas McNally award at the 2007 IGF. According to Yu, "Not only did Aquaria sell well enough that [Alec Holowka and I] could continue making games full time, but the positive feedback we received from players and critics also validated us as artists and helped to put to rest our doubts about whether we were making something worthwhile." However, Bit Blot never produced another title, and the last update to the company's website occurred in 2011. Yu and Holowka lived in separate countries,[1] and Holowka cited the long-distance nature of the collaboration as a source of tension during a 2008 interview.

In 2008, Yu released the highly popular and influential roguelike Spelunky, propelling Yu's work to the wider mainstream for the first time. A sequel, Spelunky 2, was released in 2020.

In 2014, Yu designed the card game Time Barons with Jon Perry.[5]


Date Title Role Notes Ref(s)
2002 Eternal Daughter [6]
2002 DRL Artist
2003 Diabolika [7]
2003 Diabolika II [8][3]
2006 I'm O.K – A Murder Simulator [9]
2007 Aquaria Winner of the 2007 IGF Seumas McNally Grand Prize. [10][11][12][1][2]
2008 Spelunky PC Gamer UK 2013 Game of the Year. Released for the Xbox in 2012. [13][14]

2020 Spelunky 2 [15]


  • Yu, Derek (March 2016). Spelunky. Los Angeles: Boss Fight Books. ISBN 978-1940535111.


  1. ^ a b c Road To The IGF: Bit Blot's Aquaria Archived 2008-12-21 at the Wayback Machine gamasutra.com, October 23, 2006
  2. ^ a b Inside Job: Interview; Aquaria Creators Derek Yu, Alec Holowka (page 2/5) Archived 2012-10-10 at the Wayback Machine The Escapist, 18 January 2008
  3. ^ a b 4cr Interview - Derek Yu Archived 2008-01-16 at the Wayback Machine 4colorrebellion.com, September 30, 2005
  4. ^ a b Bradley, Alan. "Being Derek Yu: A Chat With The Creator of 'Spelunky', 'UFO 50'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2018-02-08. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Time Barons: From Spelunky to Card Games". pastemagazine.com. October 15, 2014. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  6. ^ About, archived from the original on 2001-03-03, retrieved 2017-05-07
  7. ^ Blackeye software profile Archived 2019-02-22 at the Wayback Machine reloaded.org
  8. ^ Eternal Daughter the-underdogs.org (Archive.org cache)
  9. ^ Wallis, Alistair (2006-10-23). "Road To The IGF: Bit Blot's Aquaria". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  10. ^ IGS: Inside The Making Of Aquaria Archived 2010-05-10 at the Wayback Machine gamasutra.com, February 18, 2008
  11. ^ Yu, Derek (2016). "1". Spelunky. Los Angeles, CA: Boss Fight Books. p. (kindle ebook location) 117.
  12. ^ Holowka, Alec (3 November 2011). "AQUARIA FOR IPAD RELEASED!". bit-blot.com. Bit Blot. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  13. ^ "Game of the year 2013: Spelunky". PC Gamer UK. Future plc. 1 January 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Major Nelson Xbox Live Marketplace Release Schedule". 26 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2018-11-21. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  15. ^ "Spelunky World". Spelunky World. Archived from the original on 2018-09-03. Retrieved 2019-06-13.