E3 Favorite Ikumi Nakamura Leaves Tango Gameworks, ZeniMax

Is this normal, or paranormal?

Ikumi Nakamura, Tango Gameworks’ Creative Director who rose to internet stardom after becoming everyone’s favorite part of E3 2019, has left Tango and its parent company ZeniMax Media. Nakamura made the announcement today on Twitter. She also provided a link to her LinkedIn profile. She only elaborated very slightly about the seemingly very sudden change in a post on the profile itself.

“After 9 years as Creative director & Art Director at Tango and Zenimax – I felt here is one of ends of the journeys,” Nakamura said. (Please keep in mind that English is not Nakamura’s native language. We are reporting her statements verbatim to avoid altering her intended meaning. All quotes [sic].) “I learned from the talented people I’ve worked with and I respect.

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“I DO NOT want to forget appreciation and respect to everything,” she continued in her post on LinkedIn. “For several years, I have been doing my best to create the GhostWire:Tokyo which I’ve felt like my child. I’ve also decided to proceed to the new world I can keep myself happy and somebody require me. Now the huge world is showing me infinite possibilities, like an open world video game. Life in NOT linear.”

Nakamura went on to compare life to “a very balanced puzzle,” recommending that people “don’t miss even a small piece.” She then closed the post with a link to the ending credits sequence from Portal, which she says is her favorite song.

Ikumi Nakamura Exits Tango Gameworks & ZeniMax

To say that Nakamura’s departure comes as a surprise is a bit of an understatement. After the enormously positive response to her presentation during Bethesda’s E3 showcase last June, she and her game Ghostwire: Tokyo instantly garnered the kind of internet street cred that some games spend years (and millions of dollars) trying to achieve. Nakamura herself uses fan art of… herself, from her E3 presentation, as her Twitter avatar. Her post also featured further fan art inspired by her magnetic stage presence.

Nakamura made no mention of immediate future plans in her statement. However, she did ask that anyone who wishes to work with her reach out through LinkedIn. This could be interpreted as Nakamura saying she is looking for work, in which case one might suspect that she was laid off. On the other hand, the closing message could also imply that Nakamura is looking to build her own studio. That seems slightly less likely, given how early Ghostwire still seems to be in its development cycle. ZeniMax is of course also the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, makers of The Elder Scrolls, while Tango Gameworks previously worked on The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2.

It’s hard to say just what is going on at this time. But we’ll be sure to update this article and continue to follow Nakamura if she continues to work in the games industry.


Jordan Mallory

Jordan is a frog that lives in Texas and loves Girls Generation. He's also the Fanbyte Podcast Producer! Before that he wrote video game news for almost ten years at a lot of websites you've heard of, including this one.

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