Shigeru Miyamoto, who is best-known for his work in creating beloved series like Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong, was recently interviewed and discussed his career at Nintendo, how people view him as a boss, how he wants to “create a kinder world,” and how his kids playing SEGA games inspired him to be better.Speaking to The New Yorker, Miyamoto touched on many aspects of his life since joining Nintendo as a 24-year-old in 1977. When he joined, Nintendo wanted to capture the success Atari was experiencing and hoped to expand in to the world of video games. Miyamoto and the team took on the challenge and, in 1981, Donkey Kong was the result.
Since then, Miyamoto and Nintendo have sold hundreds of millions of games and hardware and, with the Switch currently leading the way, they show no sign of stopping.
My Dad Works At Nintendo!
He began by talking about how Nintendo’s headquarters is not quite as extravagant as some might imagine. He explained how the outside is very “simple and clean” and some people have “likened the reception area to a hospital waiting room. It’s kind of serene.”
When you go inside, Miyamoto mentions that while the staff can bring in any toys or action figures they may wish to, Nintendo has a system that has its designers switching desks depending on what project they are working on, meaning that “people don’t have that many personal belongings around them.”“I think, if a child were to visit and look at the space, it might seem a bit boring? The unique creative work takes place within each person,” Miyamoto said. “It doesn’t require a unique-looking environment. Obviously, we have all the equipment to do our work: motion-capture studios, sound studios. And we have a well-lit cafeteria, too, with good food.”
Following Super Mario Bros.’ worldwide success, someone told Miyamoto that he had reached “the status of Walt Disney.” At the time, Super Mario Bros. had only been out for a few years, whereas Mickey had been around for more than fifty. To Miyamoto, success is intrinsically tied to “whether or not it’s sought several decades after its creation,” so he had a “lot to catch up on.”
He continued to discuss his relationship with his two children and one grandchild, and how his success didn’t prevent him from being a “normal dad.”
“I don’t think my children cared too much about my occupation, to be honest,” Miyamoto said. “Even with their friends, once in a while, a major fan comes to visit us, but most of the time we’ve been able to just hang out as a family. They’ve certainly never felt pressure to follow a certain path or to be a certain way. At home, I’m a normal dad. I don’t think that they have felt any undue burden because of who their father is.”
Miyamoto’s Game Design Philosophy and How His Kids Playing SEGA Games Inspired Him to Be Better
He also tried to give advice to those looking to ensure kids maintain a healthy relationship to video games, especially in a time where many are stuck at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s important for parents to play the games, to understand why the child can’t quit until reaching the next save point, for example. It’s important to note that, in our household, all the video-game hardware belonged to me, and the children understood that they were borrowing these things. If they couldn’t follow the rules, then there was an understanding that I could just take the machine away from them. [Laughs.] When it was good weather outside, I would always encourage them to play outside. They played a lot of SEGA games, too, by the way.”
In regards to the SEGA comment and if he was jealous his kids were playing games from a competitor, Miyamoto simply laughed, saying “not jealous so much as inspired to try harder, so that they preferred the ones I made.”
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