Kenji Eno (1970-2013)


Sad news to hear that game accessibility advocate and pioneer Kenji Eno died this week at the age of 42. Kenji produced the first ever audio game to make its way onto a games console, RealSound: Kaze No Regret (aka The Regret of the Wind). Here's a brief excerpt from a 2008 interview with 1UP.com:

1UP: After D, you surprised Warp's fans by creating an offbeat Sega Saturn adventure game, Real Sound.

KE: Oh, that's a funky game.

1UP: Yeah, not only was it funky, it was also a game without any visuals. What inspired it, and how did you get Sega to publish it?

KE: After I released D, people were always expecting more CG graphics from me, and I got tired of that. I didn't want people to think that they could predict what Warp would do next. Also, I had a chance to visit people who are visually disabled, and I learned that there are blind people who play action games. Of course, they're not able to have the full experience, and they're kind of trying to force themselves to be able to play, but they're making the effort. So I thought that if you turn off the monitor, both of you are just hearing the game. So after you finish the game, you can have an equal conversation about it with a blind person. That's an inspiration behind this game as well.

So Sega was asking for exclusive rights to the game, and I said, "OK, if you'll donate a thousand Saturns to blind people, then I'll donate a thousand games along with the Saturns." And my condition was that if Sega would go for this idea, I would make that game Sega exclusive. So, that's how this happened. It's been several years now, and of course the contract probably isn't valid anymore, but the reason that I haven't done anything with this game is that I made this promise with Sega back in the day, and it's exclusive because of those conditions.

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