Aya Kyogoku is one of the most influential women in Japanese gaming. As Animal Crossing: New Leaf director, she is responsible for one of the biggest hits of the last year. She is also that rarity; a woman in a position of seniority at Nintendo.
Animal Crossing on 3DS was a huge hit with gamers of all kinds, allowing players to inhabit an alternative life and build their own character and surroundings. In an interview with US Gamer today, Kyogoku said that more inclusiveness is aiding game designers at Nintendo.
"When I first got into the industry, into game development, it was at a time where overall, the ratio of men to women was very much in favor of men," she said. "I definitely noticed I was the only woman developer here. But it wasn't something shocking. It was something I had sort of expected.
"Looking at the Animal Crossing team today, the ratio of men to women is very balanced across all different positions involved in the development team. Because of that, we get to hear a lot of different perspectives and opinions. I think that goes beyond just men and women, too."
It's a position she took at a Game Developers Conference talk earlier this year.
"We have a broad age range, a broad range of experiences. It helps different topics get brought up that might not have been on a team that isn't as diverse," she said. "Even beyond development, daily interactions in the workplace are a little different with a diverse team. In that sense, I feel like the fact that the balance is evening out is a good thing."
Kyogoku's boss is Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development manager Katsuya Eguchi. "There are lots of different perspectives that go into creating even a single title," he said. "In that sense, it's very beneficial to have diversity in our staff, and that's something I like to keep at the forefront of my mind as we build toward other projects."