Video game developers named ambassadors of Japanese island after boosting tourism: ‘What an honor’

Jonathan Lee
·3 min read

Two developers who worked on the PlayStation exclusive Ghost of Tsushima have been declared ambassadors by Tsushima Island.

Creative director Jason Connell and game director Nate Fox, both of Sucker Punch Productions, are due to be named ambassadors of the actual city of Tsushima, Nagasaki. The city of Tsushima shares its name with the island it’s built on, which in turn is part of Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture.

Mayor Hiroki Hitakatsu put out a statement regarding Fox and Connell receiving this distinct honor, as reported by Video Games Chronicle.

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“[Fox and Connell] spread the name and history of Tsushima to the whole world in such a wonderful way,” Hitakatsu said in his statement. “Even a lot of Japanese people do not know the history of the Gen-ko period. When it comes to the world, the name and location of Tsushima is literally unknown, so I cannot thank them enough for telling our story with such phenomenal graphics and profound stories.”

The mayor went on to say that Fox’s and Connell’s Tourism Ambassador appointments are indefinite, ending only at their own discretion.

Connell was thrilled by the news.

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“This is absolutely spectacular,” fellow developer Jon Jones replied. “What an honor! I can’t imagine what this must feel like to announce.”

“Well deserved,” another replier affirmed. “You and your team created something spectacular!!”

Hitakatsu also invited Fox, Connell and the entire Sucker Punch team to join him in Tsushima once Japan eases its travel restrictions. In the meantime, Fox and Connell will attend a formal ceremony with an award and letter of appreciation, all through the socially distanced safety of the internet

Ghost of Tsushima is an action-adventure game set during the first Mongol invasion of Japan in 1274. It stars Daisuke Tsuji as Jin Sakai, a samurai who is forced to abandon tradition and adopt unconventional warfare in order to defend his home against the Khan’s invading armies.

The game was widely praised including by Toshihiro Nagoshi, Sega’s chief creative officer who is best known for helming the cult classic Yakuza series. However, some critics took issue with Ghost of Tsushima’s romantic portrayal of the samurai as chivalrous protectors of the common folk. Spoiler alert: They weren’t, but this rosy view of the samurai has become a symbol for Japanese ultranationalists to rally under.

Still, the game’s exposure of Tsushima to a vast audience has helped the island. In Dec. 2020, a torii (large, free-standing gates that mark a Shinto shrine) in Tsushima was repaired thanks to a huge influx of fan donations. The torii was originally damaged from a typhoon that struck the island during the fall.

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