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22 JUNE 2015

The Last Guardian: a game about the relationship between a boy and a giant griffin-like monster

"When the Japanese game designer Fumito Ueda was a child, he loved to capture and care for wild animals. He was obsessed with the way they moved; and later as a young game designer he imported a copy of the Amiga classic Lemmings, seeing in it something other than a colourful puzzler. 'I sensed life on the TV screen for the first time in my life,' he said.

Since then, he has become famous for games that explore humanity and companionship. After joining Sony Japan's development studio in 1997, he oversaw two of the most fascinating and beautiful action adventures of the PlayStation 2 era: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. These doleful, reflective titles, with their hazy visuals and vast silences, showed us new ways to tell stories and invoke emotions through games. The moment in Ico where the eponymous lead character takes the hand of Yorda, the princess he seeks to rescue from an evil queen, has become one of the great images of the medium.

But then, after the wonderful Shadow of the Colossus – a game that brought themes of loss, grief and the fundamental importance of friendship to the standard monster hunting archetype – came the wilderness years. A game codenamed Project Trico, about the relationship between a boy and a giant griffin-like monster, was mentioned, and then officially announced as The Last Guardian at E3 in 2009. Then years of uncertainty as the project shifted from PS3 to PS4, and Ueda announced his separation from Sony Japan.

Six years later at E3 2015, Sony began its hugely nostalgic press conference with a revelation: The Last Guardian was definitely in production for PS4. We now know that it is a joint project between Sony Japan and a new studio, Gen Design, formed by members of Ueda's old Team Ico group. The release date is a tentative 2016. There is still much work to be done. But you get the feeling that Sony Computer Entertainment chief Shuhei Yoshida, always a fan of Ueda's work, will do whatever it takes to push this through. It is happening."

(Keith Stuart, Friday 19 June 2015)

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2016action-adventureadventure game • animal companion • atmospheric presenceboycompanion character • companionship • E3Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)environment as antagonist • epic minimalism • fantasy character • fantasy games • friendship • Fumito Ueda • game designer • Gen Design • giant griffin • grief • griffin • griffon • gryphon • hazy visuals • humanity • Ico (2001) • invoke emotions through games • legendary creaturelossmonster • monster hunting archetype • mythological beingPlaystation 2 • Project Trico • PS3PS4 • Shadow of the Colossus (2006) • Shuhei Yoshida • Sony Computer Entertainment • Sony Japan • tell stories through games • The Last Guardian • treacherous landscapevideo game • wild anima

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
26 NOVEMBER 2014

Never Alone: Could a Video Game Help to Preserve Inuit Culture?

"'Kunuuksaayuka,' an Iñupiaq tale that was recounted by the late Iñupiaq storyteller Robert Nasruk Cleveland. In its traditional incarnation, the tale recounts the adventures of a boy – the product of a nomadic society – who goes on a quest to save his community from an apocalyptic blizzard. After securing the consent of Cleveland’s daughter, Minnie Aliitchask Gray, the development team in conjunction with representatives from the Iñupiat community reworked the story until they settled on a script that would become the basis for 'Never Alone.' (The game’s Iñupiaq sub-title, 'Kisima Ingitchuna,' translates to 'I am Not Alone.')".

(Simon Parkin, 17 November 2014, The New Yorker)

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2014adventure gameAlaskaAlaska Native peoplearctic circle • arctic fox • atmospheric presence • aurora borealis • backstory • Black River People • blizzard • call on spirits • coldcompanion charactercontemporary interpretation • Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) • cultural heritage • cultural insights • cultural myths • cultural traditions • cultural translation • digital storytelling • E-Line Media • endless blizzard • engaged learning • environment as antagonistfemale protagonist • folkloric fantasy characters • folktale • foxindie gamesIndigenous peopleinteractive playInuit • Inupiaq • Kisima Ingitchuna (video game) • Kunuuksaayuka • magical bola • Minnie Gray • native tribes • Never Alone (video game) • nomadic cultures • nomadic people • Nuna (character) • oral traditionpuzzle platformer • Robert Nasruk Cleveland • Sean Vesce • spiritsSteamsurvival storyThe New Yorker • traditional art • treacherous landscape • Upper One Games • video gamevideo games and Indigenous peoplewind

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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