If I could have told my fifth-grade self that one day I’d be sitting in lobby of storied video game maker Sega’s central building, waiting to meet with Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka, I think young me would have imploded with excitement.
And yet there I was, in the oppressively hot and humid Japanese August of 2005, preparing for an interview with Naka. I’d met and interviewed him a couple times before, but it had always been with a partner or in a roundtable setting. Naka had a reputation for being a difficult interview when he was still at Sega, but I had never seen him as aloof during my time with him—he had always been eager and willing to answer my questions. He was a creative type. He loved programming, relishing the ability to create entire worlds and realities from scratch through the simple act of entering words and commands into a computer. I respected him greatly, and I think he could see that I understood his underlying passion.
I was escorted by a spokesperson to Yuji Naka’s office several floors up. When we walked in, he smiled.
“Ah, it’s you.”
* * *
I wasn’t really like the other girls I knew in 1992. Instead of reading Tiger Beat and gossiping about boys, I read Electronic Gaming Monthly and gossiped with boys about games. I was the odd one out in my class, but I was also a repository of gaming knowledge. I had a place on the grade-school nerd social ladder that couldn’t be usurped.