Fumito Ueda

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Fumito Ueda
上田 文人
Ueda during E3 2016
Born (1970-04-19) April 19, 1970 (age 54)
Occupation(s)Game director, screenwriter, game designer
Years active1996–present
Notable work

Fumito Ueda (上田 文人, Ueda Fumito, born April 19, 1970) is a Japanese video game designer. Ueda is best known as the director and lead designer of Ico (2001) and Shadow of the Colossus (2005) while leading Team Ico at Japan Studio, and The Last Guardian (2016) through his own development company GenDesign. His games have achieved cult status and are distinguished by their usage of minimal plot and scenario using fictional languages, and use of overexposed, desaturated light. He has been described by some as an auteur of video games.


Ueda in 2017

Early life[edit]

Born in Tatsuno, Ueda graduated from the Osaka University of Arts in 1993. In 1995, after trying to make a living as a visual artist, Ueda decided to pursue a career in the video game industry. He joined the developer WARP and worked as an animator on the game Enemy Zero for the Sega Saturn under the director Kenji Eno.[1] He described his time there as "arduous",[2] as the game was behind schedule and everyone on the project had to work more than normal to meet the release deadline. Eno, who also owned the company, did not think he was that great a digital artist, but handpicked Ueda because of his talent with concepts and design.[3] Ueda worked at WARP for a year and a half.[4]

2000s: Sony[edit]

In 1997, Ueda joined Sony Computer Entertainment as a first-party developer.[1] In Sony Computer Entertainment's Japan Studio, he began work on Ico. After Ico, Ueda and his small team, better known as Team Ico, started work on Shadow of the Colossus.[1]

In February 2007, Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu reported that Ueda and his team were working on a game for the PlayStation 3. No details about the unnamed title were revealed. In 2008, in the August edition of PlayStation Magazine, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida commented that both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus took 4 years to develop as a hint that the game was under production, but was not close to release.[5] The game was revealed at E3 2009 as The Last Guardian, the trailer for which suggests a saga involving elements of both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus wherein a young boy resembling Ico partners up with a colossus-sized companion to complete puzzles.[6] Ueda later confirmed The Last Guardian to be related to the two previous installments.[7]

In an interview with G4tv.com in 2009 he expressed admiration for the method of cut-scene story-telling in Valve's Half-Life 2, and when questioned directly expressed an interest in making a first person game.[8][9]

2010s-present: GenDesign[edit]

Ueda left Sony in December 2011, although he remained under contract to finish work on The Last Guardian.[10] Around mid-2014, he formed GenDesign (stylized as genDESIGN), made up of former members from Team Ico to help complete development of The Last Guardian.[11] At E3 2015, The Last Guardian was announced for release on October 25, 2016, but was later delayed to December 6, 2016.[12]

In September 2018, Ueda revealed that the studio was at the prototyping stage of designing a new game, supported with funding from the investment fund Kowloon Nights.[13][14] In March 2020, Epic Games announced that they would be fully funding development, with the two companies splitting profits in half.[15] In 2021, the new game was teased in one of GenDesign's New Year post cards, which features screenshots from Ueda's three previous games and an unidentified screenshot of a person under a mechanical structure, which is thought to be from the new game.[16]

The logo for GenDesign

Influences and style[edit]

He described himself as a very inquisitive child saying "I enjoyed catching and keeping living things, such as fish or birds. Other than that, I liked both watching and making animation. Basically, I seemed to be interested in things that moved." Among his favorite subjects in school was art. He commented, "If I was not in the games industry, I would want to become a classical artist. Though I regard not only games but also anything that expresses something – be it films, novels or manga – as forms of art."[17]

Ueda played many Sega Mega Drive games, which influenced his work.[18] He was also a fan of the Amiga computer platform games Flashback and Another World during his teen years.[19] Other games that influenced his work include The Legend of Zelda,[20] Virtua Fighter, and Prince of Persia.[21] He was also influenced by the work of Kenji Eno,[22] and the manga series Galaxy Express 999 (1977–1981).[23]

Ueda's games are considered to have a distinctive style, which Ueda himself describes as "design by subtraction", with sparse landscapes, oversaturated lighting and minimalist story to give his games a personal and distinctive feel.[1] Ueda also said that, in video games, ideas for a gameplay mechanic should be made first, then complemented by a game's story.[1] In 2008, IGN ranked Ueda as one of their top 100 game creators of all time, saying that his knack for "creating atmospheric puzzle playgrounds with mute or near-mute characters instills a sense of isolation, yet provides an endearing feeling of hope as the protagonists seek simply to find an exodus or redemption from their weather-worn, ornate prisons".[24]


Year Game title Role
1996 D no Shokutaku: Director's Cut Animator[25]
1997 Enemy Zero CGI animator[25]
2001 Ico Director, game designer, key animator, character designer
2005 Shadow of the Colossus Director, game designer, writer
2016 The Last Guardian Director, producer, game designer, narrative designer


  1. ^ a b c d e "Fumito Ueda". Giant Bomb. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  2. ^ "Fumito Ueda at Game For Future 2007". 2007. Archived from the original on October 17, 2008.
  3. ^ Bettenhausen, Shane; Mielke, James, "Japan's Wayward Son [transcript reprinted from Electronic Gaming Monthly (Sep 2008)]", www.1up.com, p. 7 of 10, archived from the original on 3 November 2012, 1UP: One of your animators on Enemy Zero was a young guy named Fumito Ueda, who most people know as being the creator of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Did you see his potential, you know, for the future when you worked with him on Enemy Zero? KE: At the very beginning, he didn't pass the application process at Warp. But I still remember the work that he submitted; it was about a dog running in the rain. His technology as an animator, as a CG artist, wasn't that great, but his ideas and his concepts really struck me, so even though he originally wasn't on the hiring list, I handpicked him because I saw his potential. Not potential as a graphic artist, but his design and concepts struck me, so that's why I picked him out. However, people ask me a lot about Ueda, but he didn't stay at Warp for a long time. It's not like I groomed him or anything; he already had the talent when he came to work, and he's a talented person, so he went to whatever future he was supposed to go to. That's how I see Ueda.
  4. ^ 上田文人 (@fumito_ueda) (21 Feb 2013), "僕が初めてビデオゲームの世界に入ったのが飯野賢治さん率いる(株)WARPという会社でした。1年半ほどの短い時間でしたがそこで濃密な時間を過ごさせてもらったことが今の自分に繋がってると思います。ちゃんとお礼を伝えられなかったのが悔やまれます。心からご冥福をお祈り申し上げます。" [My first experience in the world of video games was at a company WARP, led by Kenji Iino. It was a short time of about one and a half years ...], twitter.com (in Japanese), no. 304575060109303809
  5. ^ Gibson, Ellie (August 4, 2008). "Sony boss praises Ico team's new game". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  6. ^ "From Ico to The Last Guardian (Page 2 Of 2)". IGN. July 3, 2009. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  7. ^ "The Last Guardian sera bien lié à Ico et Shadow of the Colossus" (in French). 24 September 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  8. ^ Razak, Matthew (3 Oct 2009), "Ueda wants to make an FPS, loves Half-Life 2", www.destructoid.com
  9. ^ "Fumito Ueda's A Big Half-Life 2 Fan Interested In Making A First Person Game", g4tv.com, archived from the original on 7 October 2009, [via a Translator] ".. the way they [Half-Life 2 developer Valve] implemented constraints was something different that I enjoyed, compared to other games." [...] Q. Given his appreciation for Valve's brand of storytelling and appreciation of what's possible from that vantage point, does that mean he'd consider making a move into the first-person in the future? "I have an interest in making first-person games," he said.
  10. ^ Curtis, Tom (December 12, 2011). "Confirmed: Ico Creator Fumito Ueda Leaves Sony". Gamasutra. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  11. ^ Copeland, Wesley (June 17, 2015). "Fumito Ueda Formed a New Studio With Ico/Shadow Devs". IGN. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  12. ^ Bohn, Dieter (13 June 2016). "The Last Guardian is coming to PlayStation 4 on October 25th". The Verge. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  13. ^ Romano, Sal (12 Sep 2018), "Fumito Ueda's next project underway, rivals the scale of previous titles", gematsu.com
  14. ^ Leone, Matt. "Meet Kowloon Nights, the group funding Fumito Ueda's next game". Polygon. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  15. ^ Robinson, Andy (March 26, 2020). "Epic will publish games from Remedy, Playdead and Gen Design". Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  16. ^ Behan, Daire (2022-09-08). "Will GenDesign's Next Game Be Revealed At Tokyo Game Show 2022?". Game Rant. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  17. ^ Barder, Ollie (August 18, 2005). "A break from the norm". The Guardian. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  18. ^ blackoak. "ICO – 2002 Developer Interview". Shmuplations. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  19. ^ "The Last Guardian creator: 'I can't face playing my own game'". The Guardian. June 28, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  20. ^ "shadow of the colossus". October 25, 2005. Archived from the original on 3 February 2020. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  21. ^ "Watch The Last Guardian's spectacular new CG trailer". PlayStation Blog. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  22. ^ "'The Last Guardian' Creator Ueda on His First Game Job and the Late Kenji Eno". Glixel. January 6, 2017. Archived from the original on February 11, 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  23. ^ "The PlayStation 2 Interview: Fumita Ueda", Official PlayStation 2 Magazine, no. 19, April 2002
  24. ^ "46. Fumito Ueda". IGN. 2008. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  25. ^ a b 上田文人の物語 (in Japanese). Ohta Publishing. 21 June 2012. pp. 1–432. ISBN 978-4778313265. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help) (Translation by Shmuplations. Archived 2020-04-22 at the Wayback Machine).

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