There's been some sad news amidst the hustle and bustle of GDC 2016. Two prominent industry figures passed away this month: Professor Layton "Puzzle Master" Akira Tago, and Pokémon Creative Design Director, Eric Medalle.
Akira Tago died on March 6 at age 90 after a struggle with interstitial pneumonia. Tago was extremely academic. In addition to his puzzle work with the Professor Layton series, he published a popular, long-running series of quiz books called Atama no Taiso. He was also the chairman of the Japan Creativity Society, as well as president of Tokyo Future University.
Tago's often-devious puzzles are the heart, blood, and soul of the critically-acclaimed Professor Layton games. His work is appreciated, and he will be missed.
Though Tago's death was noted by some outlets on the day it happened, he's being widely remembered alongside Eric Medalle, who died in a particularly sad manner. The illustrator was killed in Seattle on March 13 when a windstorm snapped an evergreen tree in Seward Park and fell on his vehicle. Medalle was driving with one of his two daughters, a toddler, when the accident happened. Fortunately, she suffered only minor injuries. Medalle was 42.
Medalle's works include artwork for Pokémon Black and White, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, Pokémon X and Y, and Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. He also designed the logos for Pokémon X and Y, and Pokémon Dream Radar.
Our first thoughts are with the families of Mr Tago and Mr Medalle. We're also soberly reminded that the people who make the games we love are mortal, and won't be with us forever. Some, like Mr Tago, depart after a long and fruitful career. Others, like Mr Medalle and Mr Iwata, are taken suddenly.
In both instances, it's beneficial to remember that game designers and programmers are hard-working human beings, even if we're far more familiar with their works than their faces. To everyone who dedicates themselves to the pastime we love, and to everyone who has, we thank you for your work.