Despite an interview with Wired.com, Nintendo have moved quickly to try and stop the fallout of the insinuation that Shigeru Miyamoto – the legendary games designer who can chalk Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Metroid, F-Zero, Starfox, Wave Race, Pikmin and many many more games to his impressive list of achievements – wants to retire.
The result of this was predictable – Nintendo shares dropped 2% at the vaguest hint that the man credited with creating the majority of Nintendo franchises wants to rescind his position.
“What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself,” Miyamoto told Wired.com. “Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.”
Nintendo a day later was quick to try and justify these comments.
“Video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s role at Nintendo is not changing. He will continue to be a driving force in Nintendo’s development efforts. In discussing his priorities at Nintendo in a media interview, Mr. Miyamoto explained how he is encouraging the younger developers at the company to take more initiative and responsibility for developing software. He attempted to convey his priorities moving forward, inclusive of overseeing all video game development and ensuring the quality of all products. Mr. Miyamoto also discussed his desire to pursue fresh ideas and experiences of the kind that sparked his initial interest in video games.”
Whatever the actual truth, Shigeru Miyamoto is an impressive 59 years of age. Shigeru Miyamoto seems to know, and value, the wealth of talent not being used properly at Nintendo, and also seems to know he himself is not as immortal as the many big names he has given to the world.
One can also assume that Shigeru Miyamoto also has ideas that he feels he needs to make a reality – his position at Nintendo is as a director and producer, as well as a general manager. Despite overseeing projects like Super Mario Galaxy/2, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Mario Kart 7, he knows that the people who work on these projects need no real input from him – they have their own visions and ideas on how these franchises should progress into the future.
Increasingly, Shigeru Miyamoto sounds like he’s a little bored of his comfy desk job.
And so he wants to make actual games again, with smaller teams or on his own, probably still for Nintendo – but on his own terms. If the Shareholders only knew how much of a bright shining light that was in these times of cloning and copying all the other good ideas – the share price wouldn’t have dropped that dramatically.
Shigeru Miyamoto isn’t any old games designer and developer – he is a legend, a true icon that even Microsoft and Sony would have to begrudgingly concede has had some of the greatest impact on the games industry in his thirty-two decades in the industry (He began in 1979). To underestimate this is to deny his rightful place in the industry, and the billions he has managed to generate for Nintendo.
So he wants to make some new innovative games again and get stuck in, rather than sit on the sidelines telling everyone what to do. Explain to me, please, exactly how this is a bad thing?!
One day though, we must accept that Shigeru Miyamoto will have to either retire and/or will, sadly, no longer be with us. For Nintendo, this is scary – but for Shigeru Miyamoto, this must be terrifying. Despite his impressive legacy, he wants to feel when the time comes (and it must come inevitably), that he has left behind a new generation of designers, developers and engineers who are as excitable, curious and revolutionary as he has been. In an era of “safe design”, Miyamoto-san would probably sound more at ease if this was already the case – that he himself would like to work with younger teams and individuals is a testament to this perhaps not being the case at all.
If even a tenth of the genius that Shigeru Miyamoto rubs off on the new generation he is so keen to work with, the future of Nintendo is in safe hands.
It’s surprising that the fate of Nintendo should be so tied up into one man – but as I’ve said, Shigeru Miyamoto is more than just a name, he is a tradition, a figurehead, an icon. Any hint that Shigeru Miyamoto wants to leave Nintendo would have dramatic consequences – it doesn’t sound like he wants to abandon the company he has helped dominate the gaming landscape, but it does sound like sitting on the sidelines, checking other peoples work and saying “Yes” or “No” is clearly not the life he feels he wants.
Another wholly new Shigeru Miyamoto-led franchise would be a sweet, sweet thing.
But if anything, what we have seen from the fallout of this interview is he is not happy with his current position, he wants to do something new and when he is gone, Nintendo will have a real battle on their hands to keep shareholders and the industry on side.
This is how important this one man is.
And this is why, if he wants to go back to physically getting involved in making games, Nintendo should be thrilled. Because I know I would be…