Okinawa-based game designer co-develops worldwide bestseller

Okinawa-based game designer co-develops worldwide bestseller

Ryo Agarie


May 6, 2014 Ken Sasaki of Ryukyu Shimpo

An Okinawa resident and game creator Ryo Agarie has co-developed a top-ranking smartphone game app, working from his home in Naha. Since it was sold this February, the Japanese-mythology themed puzzle game is currently first place out of 19 countries in App Store rankings. It is also ranked top in the Puzzle Game category.

Tengami is an adventure game full of Japanese scenery and imagery.
Using a background of traditional Japanese paper, they designed classical Japanese scenes such as temple grounds, and a flurry of falling cherry blossoms.

These were inspired by Japanese mythology. Game users from all around the world are hooked on the game’s beautifully crafted pop-up book world built in Tengami. Users range from children to elderly people.

Originally from Aichi Prefecture, Agarie went to college in the United Kingdom. After graduating, he started working for major British video game developer Rare Ltd. There, Agarie created characters for an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service Xbox Live. After leaving the company in 2012, Agarie returned home to Japan. His work was destined to come to Okinawa, after he met his Okinawan wife-to-be Riko at college in the United Kingdom.

After moving to Okinawa to raise a family with his wife, he began co-developing Tengami for an independent game developer Nyamyam, which was formed by his former co-workers at Rare.

He worked on the project as part of a team with two main co-developers British Phil Tossell and German Jennifer Schneidereit. Agarie’s wife Riko also assisted with the graphics.

The team used a freemium voice-over-IP service and instant messaging client Skype to keep in regular contact during the game’s development. They held conferences every morning at 8:00 a.m.

Agarie said the game industry is redefining creative collaboration through the internet.

“With improved the infrastructure of the internet, people can work anywhere,” he said.

Agarie went on to say, “I chose Okinawa as a workplace because Okinawa is my wife’s home with a beautiful sea where her parents help us raise our children.”

Agarie actively works on promoting exchanges between game developers who work internationally. He has set up a website where developers and media companies can share information. The site acts as a bridge between the developers that want to promote independent video games, and media companies.

“A connection is important in the game industry because workers have their own roles for developing games. If connected, people can work anywhere,” he said.
Agarie will continue to develop independent video games for a world audience from Okinawa.

(English translation by T&CT)

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