Aya Kyogoku

From Nookipedia, the Animal Crossing wiki
Aya Kyogoku
Aya Kyogoku 2019.jpg
Aya Kyogoku for Nintendo (2019)
Born 1981 or 1982 (age 41–42)
Osaka, Japan
Occupation Video game director and producer
Notable work Animal Crossing series
Title Manager of Nintendo EPD Production Group No. 5

Aya Kyogoku (京極あや, born c. 1981) is a Japanese video game director and producer, who oversees the development of the Animal Crossing series, as the current manager of Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development (EPD) Group No. 5.[1] Kyogoku directed Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Kyogoku joined Nintendo in September 2003 as a scriptwriter for The Legend of Zelda series prior to working on Animal Crossing. Her first entry in the Animal Crossing series was Animal Crossing: City Folk in 2008, where she undertook the role of sequence director.

Since City Folk, Kyogoku has been in charge of development of the Animal Crossing series,[2] and has been involved in the development of every title since. With Kyogoku as director, both New Leaf and New Horizons broke sales records for the series, with the latter selling nearly as many copies as all titles in the Animal Crossing series combined.[3]


Aya Kyogoku was born circa 1981 in Osaka, Japan. She began her career in the video game industry in 2000 working at Atlus, as an assistant planner and director. After joining Nintendo in September 2003, Kyogoku served as scriptwriter for The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the latter of which earning her a Game Developers Choice Award in 2007.[4]

Work on the Animal Crossing series[edit]

Kyogoku first began working on the Animal Crossing series in 2008 with Animal Crossing: City Folk as a sequence director, where she was responsible for scriptwriting and character dialogue.[5] After working on City Folk, Kyogoku was promoted to oversee development of the entire Animal Crossing series.[2]

Aya Kyogoku photographed for New Leaf (circa 2013)

Alongside Isao Moro, Kygoku jointly directed Animal Crossing: New Leaf between 2008 and 2012. Kyogoku made history as the first female director at Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development and led to the introduction of a team made up of "half men and half women" for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a revolutionary first for Nintendo's internal development teams.[6]

Regarding the development of New Leaf, the new direction of the series sought to challenge the "conventions of Animal Crossing", which Kyogoku states was in direct response to the underwhelming commercial and critical performance of City Folk.[7] "It was clear the series had challenges we needed to overcome," she explained.[8]

Kyogoku states the development team closely examined long-held gameplay conventions from previous titles Animal Crossing and Wild World, and series fatigue, when considering the core of the Animal Crossing series and "what players found enjoyment in and kept them coming back for long stretches of time."[8]

In 2015, Kyogoku produced Animal Crossing spin-off title Happy Home Designer with Hisashi Nogami, and served as director of Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival. Kyogoku candidly stated that the development of both amiibo Festival and Happy Home Designer began solely for the purpose of producing Animal Crossing series amiibo, "We were confident that if there [were Animal Crossing amiibo], it would be really cute. Honestly, we just wanted Animal Crossing amiibo. We wanted the company to make them, so that's why we made a game that works with them."[9] In 2016, Kyogoku served as producer of Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Welcome amiibo.

As of 2019, development had began on the next main-series Animal Crossing title New Horizons, which Kyogoku was the sole director of. At this time, Kyogoku had also been promoted to manager of Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development Group No. 5, a position previously held by Hisashi Nogami.[1] Kyogoku provided commentary for the first gameplay demonstration for New Horizons at E3 2019.[10] New Horizons was released in 2020, becoming the best-selling game in the Animal Crossing series, and the second best-selling game on the Nintendo Switch. Kyogoku attributed the success of New Horizons and the Animal Crossing series as a whole to "its ability to make each instalment different enough from the last, while also retaining the core appeal of the series."[11]


The Legend of Zelda series[edit]

Animal Crossing series[edit]

Super Smash Bros. series[edit]