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Sonic's Naka: Why I Left Sega, Formed Prope

As part of a rare interview with Sonic The Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka, the famed designer talks with Gamasutra about how the "need to keep creating"
After 20 years, famed Sonic The Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka left a comfortable position with Sega to form Prope in 2006. Sega anded up publishing Prope's first shipped title, Let's Tap -- which left some asking why Naka left the company at all. "I could have stayed under Sega itself, but I already had a very high position there," Naka says, speaking as part of a new Gamasutra feature interview. "The game industry has a very short history behind it, and as a result, the more games you make, the further you work your way up the company ladder, until you become one of the heads of the whole outfit," he says. "Once that happens, you start running out of time to actually make games." "It's better to keep yourself directly involved with the actual game process, you know?" he adds. "Directors are pretty high up the job ladder in the movie industry, but they're still involved with every aspect of the film they're working on; they're still making movies their entire careers." "The game industry isn't quite like that, and I think that's a lost opportunity for a lot of people." Naka found that the further he climbed at Sega, the less up-close involvement he had with the creative aspects of game development. "Before I left Sega, I was high enough up that I was looking at every game the company was developing," he says. "Once I was in that position, though, I found that I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty details instead with the games, including Sonic -- the whole 'it'd be better if this bit were like this instead of that' type of thing," says Naka. "There was a lot I wanted to do that I couldn't gauge until someone actually tried making it." "So, at the age of 40, I convinced Sega to let me build a company -- since it's Sega that's behind the company, they're the one publishing the games," he explains. "Really, if you're a game creator, no matter how high a position you have in the industry, you need to keep creating. It's better for the industry, and it's more fun for everybody involved." You can read the full feature, in which Naka talks more about his new studio and the innovative Let's Tap for Wii (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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