Shigeru Miyamoto interview

Shigeru Miyamoto Famitsu Interview Part 4

The fourth and final part of our translated Weekly Famitsu interview with Shigeru Miyamoto who talks about making something interesting before making something to sell, Yamauchi’s philosophy of “making something never seen before”, Nintendo wanting to cooperate with more companies, wanting Nintendo to continue to do interesting things and become an “entertainment office”, Miyamoto’s hobbies, and lots of Pokémon GO talk!

Check out Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here. Many thanks to BlackKite for translating this for Japanese Nintendo. Please credit if posting elsewhere. Buy Weekly Famitsu here (use the code JPNINTENDO for 5% off all physical orders above $20). Please consider buying me a coffee and to help support future translations.


Chibi Robo

Making something interesting before making ‘something to sell’

“If you’re trying to make ‘something to sell’, there will be various failures. Instead of making something to sell, the most important thing is to make something you believe will be interesting. If you’re trying to sell something to sell, it will definitely become something that already exists somewhere. Especially if you’re making it within a competition.”

“Why Nintendo makes something that’s never been seen before”

“I did a number of lectures at CEDEC, saying such a thing while also talked that operating staff and managers are the ones who restrain the stretched creative staff in the workplace. If you were to say ‘It will sell if we make it like this’ without relying on the stretched ideas in the workplace, the result would end up being something that might exist in society. But something that might already exist would not sell, would it? (laughs) That’s why Nintendo makes something that’s never been seen before.”

Yamauchi saying “Make something never seen before”

“Mr. Hiroshi Yamauchi was the one who said ‘Make something never seen before’. We came along that in a very stretched way. I think the difference is extremely big. That’s why I also said ‘To everyone in management, please tell people in the workplace to make things in a stretched way’ at CEDEC (laughs). [TN: The term ‘stretched’ here should mean to take your time and don’t be too hasty]

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Sharing Yamauchi’s philosophy after he was no longer president

The above philosophy also applied to the global market, as they never said “Make something that will sell globally”. Although there had been some talks of concerns like “Won’t there be any problems when bringing this overseas?”, everyone in the company makes things normally and naturally, and they found themselves really lucky that the things could expand worldwide. Miyamoto wanted to share this philosophy with newer staff that joined after Yamauchi was no longer the company’s president.

Miyamoto isn’t closely related to Nintendo Labo and Ring Fit Adventure

The newer titles like Nintendo Labo and Ring Fit Adventure are being perceived as new ideas coming just as expected from Nintendo, even though Miyamoto isn’t as closely related to them. He’s glad that he could safely watch the developers making them with a high degree of freedom.

Nintendo wanting to cooperate with more companies

Nintendo wants to expand and cooperate with various companies while taking great care of their own game characters. If it goes well, there would be more opportunities for people to get in touch with Nintendo characters in an even larger scope than the Nintendo company, and there should be more parents that can safely watch their children interact with Nintendo just like Disney movies.

Miyamoto wanting Nintendo to keep doing new things and become an entertainment office

Miyamoto wants Nintendo to keep doing new things. If things go that way, Nintendo would end up becoming not a game company, character company, or movie company, but an entertainment office that houses celebrity talents like Mario who perform worldwide. While many people may think development [of games, software etc] is an internal-only work, Miyamoto originally had lots of outside work.

Wanting to make something considered interesting

Currently he has been communicating with many people from outside the games industry. It’s fun for him to look at some chances getting generated, and he had seen his desires changing from ‘drawing manga’ to ‘making something that surprises everyone’ to ‘making something that would be considered interesting by everyone’.

A compact job ‘could be interesting’ but more other interesting things to do

But he doesn’t feel many changes when compared to the past; the only noticeable difference to him is on whether he’s doing things on his own or having other people do the jobs. He secretly thinks that “a compact job that can be done by a number of people would be interesting”, but right now there are many other interesting things to do.

Miyamoto’s hobbies!

People may think that Miyamoto has a hobby in gardening due to Pikmin, but his actual hobbies are doing DIY carpenter works on weekends and re-arranging his own room. His origin is from Industrial Design, so he would be restless if things he had made weren’t being preserved as-is. That’s why he thinks people who actually do gardening – like his own wife – are great because they can cut plants while imagining how it would look like in the future. When his wife does some gardening, he would provide some ‘hardware’ help like arranging wood frames and pouring cement into them.

Guessing a seat’s height!

Another proof that he came from Industrial Design is his ability to guess a seat’s height just by looking at it. He noted that the best seat height for Japanese people is around 38 to 42 centimetres, while people from Scandinavia would prefer 43 to 44 cm because they have longer legs and also wear shoes; that’s why most Scandinavian seats wouldn’t fit Japanese people well.

On enjoying Pokémon GO

Looking back at Pokémon GO, Miyamoto wonders why he has been enjoying it much with people around him like his family and the middle-aged people nearby his house. It’s been a long while since he last enjoyed a game made by somebody else. When enjoying something made by other people, one can learn the process of how customers can understand things, which in turn should impact a developer’s approach to convey the fun factors of their games to customers.

Miyamoto’s wife playing Pokémon GO

Even Miyamoto’s wife, who almost never plays any games let alone Miyamoto’s own games, gets very serious in playing Pokémon GO. She doesn’t hate games; she just doesn’t want to do bothersome things like that. Yet she’s memorising all the detailed gameplay features of Pokémon GO such as how Gyms work. She is also very keen on achieving the weekly rewards, for example wanting to walk outside a bit more in the night when she only had 2 km remaining from the 50 km reward.

Not being jealous of Pokémon GO

But Pokémon GO’s success doesn’t make Miyamoto jealous of it. In fact, he doesn’t want to be revered too much because he wants to be treated as a normal person in his household and neighbourhood. He wants people to focus on the games that he had made rather than himself. But Miyamoto is really enjoying his job because at his current age, he now thinks “If I’m not having fun, I’d be at a loss”. Anyone would be angry if a game they created gets criticized harshly by someone, but Miyamoto is making it more enjoyable by turning that criticism into energy for him to think how to overcome those critics.

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