Nintendo has always tried to push the boundaries of gaming with their machines and concepts. One of the big influences for the company is Shigeru Miyamoto, Creative Fellow and Games Design guru. He has been pivotal in the creation of some of Nintendo’s iconic brands such as Donkey Kong and Zelda, now he holds a more senior role in the business as an adviser, overseeing the launch of the Switch. When it comes to the Nintendo Switch, he says it is just as much influenced by Nintendo’s past as it is by the company’s vision of the future.
Miyamoto recently sat down for an interview with Time, detailing his views on Nintendo Switch and the direction his company has taken in what he describes as “the industry of fun.”
Gunpei Yokoi, the inventor of the cross-shaped game control and the Nintendo Gameboy had a philosophy of “lateral thinking with seasoned technology.” While Yokoi’s thinking was not specifically followed when it comes to the Switch, Miyamoto did concede that the developers at Nintendo “really place importance on finding something unique, something that only we can do.” This is clearly a key in the design of the Switch, the console that you can take with you anywhere you go, and enjoy many different ways to play with friends or by yourself. Right from the infancy of Nintendo, they have tried to push boundaries of what is achievable with their hardware, and that still rings true with their newest console. Miyamoto says, “We had to think about how to make Switch unique.”
Another top mind at Nintendo, the former president of the company Satoru Iwata, who passed away in 2015, also had influence over the design and concept of the Nintendo Switch. Miyamoto gives the credit for the new machine’s versatility to Iwata. His technical know-how surrounding things like networking capabilities were invaluable in the design. It isn’t just the portable nature of Nintendo’s latest console that is cutting edge, Miyamoto also cites the inclusion of “HD Rumble.” Though he admits it isn’t an entirely new concept (Nintendo first included a rumble feature on their controllers with the N64), he boasts, “The sensation HD Rumble provides is completely new… With HD Rumble, the latency is different, so it provides a unique experience, and with that unique experience, I think new ideas can come about.”
New ideas may be what drives Nintendo in a market where they can no longer compete head-to-head with the major players of Sony and Microsoft, but they haven’t forgotten their legacy. An older and extremely successful brand that has been re-vamped for their new console is The Legend of Zelda. Miyamoto has vested interest in this franchise as he helped to create the original. In his more senior role now, he is able to stand back and watch the progress of the producer for Breath of the Wild, Eiji Aonuma. Miyamoto has previously been quoted as not being a fan of story driven gameplay, but he describes the development of the new Legend of Zelda, saying, “Instead of creating a game where you’re playing the story, you yourself are embarking on an adventure.” He wants players to find their own way through the narrative. And most importantly for him, he says, “After someone is done playing, their own experience in that game is what the story is.”
Shigeru Miyamoto has strong influences over Nintendo. He is mindful of the past players in his company, but is also looking to the future. He is fully aware that gaming as a whole will move along at an ever increasing pace, but it is something that he looks forward to. In his own words, “In the industry of fun, I think there’s still a lot we can still explore.”