Why Fumito Ueda Thinks Game Development Is Like Writing Hip Hop Lyrics

Fumito Ueda, the creator of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, doesn't give many interviews, which is why 1up's latest profile of Ueda is such an intriguing feature. Collating material from three different interviews, the piece attempts to drag interesting answers from the usually shy and retiring Ueda, and does a great job of doing so. Ueda even explains why he thinks game development is like writing Hip Hop lyrics!

"I chose hip-hop because you have to rhyme with a lot of constraints in how you choose words — not just the music, but the words," he said. "There's a lot of constraints, which is very similar to game design. You have to deal with a lot of restrictions, limitations, etc. In a novel you can go on and on, and the page count doesn't matter. A book can be this thick [makes hand motion of a couple inches] and it doesn't matter, and movies are sort of the same way, but a game has to fit into what the technology allows. In hip-hop it's a three-minute track, maybe, with a lot of restrictions, but you're still trying to convey a very powerful message to deliver to your audience. That's how I see game development."

It's a nice interview that captures a voice we rarely get to hear much from. If you have any interest in Ueda and his upcoming project The Last Guardian, I fully recommend checking it out in full.

The Man Behind Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian [1up]


    You linked to the fourth page of the article, here's the first page.

    I'm one of those people who think that restraints foster creativity. Too much freedom and it can be hard to find a focused approach to something. Throw in a few rules of how it must be done and suddenly you have to worry about how it all works together.

    Unfortunately, I think using Hip Hop as an example might be overly simplistic. Yes there are restrictions on how the words are formed but it appears that many mainstream hip hop acts don't seem to worry too much about that.

    I think a better example might be filmmaking before the era of CGI. Many restrictions were placed on what was actually possible to technically do, and that lead to some amazing works. My favourite example is probably Alien, they couldn't find a way to make the alien itself appear intimidating so they changed it to make the story much more tension driven.

    A restriction (unable to show the threat on screen) fostered creativity and resulted in brilliance.

    This is getting rather tangential methinks.

      Jaws is another similar example. Poor Bruce, didn't get anywhere near the screen time that was in his original contract :p

      You are correct. When CGI became commonplace, George Lucas' films went from being creative and daring to mediocre (at best). He no longer needed to exhibit any kind of creativity, so the films suffered. I am thinking especially of Indy 4, which I know technically doesn't exist, but I have nightmares about it still. Damn monkeys.

        Lucas also has become a fat lazy bastard who can't write a script, surrounds himself with sycophants and yes men who will never call him out on his crap, and who directs by looking down two screens while sitting on a chair with an extra large starbucks coffee in hand. So I'm not sure that the CGI is the problem.

        Actually a lot of films have had to invent new CG techniques because of what wasn't possible with their computers or software at the time as well. Not much different to the pre-CG era where you had groups like ILM doing more and more elaborate special effects manually, inventing new techniques and so on.

    So... any news about when the game is coming out?

      '2012'. The game looked 6 months away in May 2009.

      This is about the most frustrated I've ever felt waiting for a game. But good things come to those who wait. Unless you are a Duke Nukem fan.

      Team Ico are struggling to average 1 game per generation ... since Ico was initially being developed for PS1, and PS4 is probably in full development.

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