Shigeru Miyamoto - Legend of the Last Toy-Maker
His tale is told much like a fairie tale (note even the titles), and its tone is given higher precedence than the actual content that it is sharing, though it does give us that content. The authors seem most interested in imbuing this store with a kind of mythic weight. Shigeru Miyamoto isn't just the man that brought us Mario, he is an artist, he is the ever-wide-eyed toymaker, the man who can imbue childlike joy and imagination into his games.
Clearly, the way that the authors tell us this story wants to impress this upon us. We are given an omniscient narrator (who also tells us of Miyamoto's many handlers - have those handlers, perhaps, had their fingers in the telling of this story?), we shares with us the journey of Miyamoto from childhood into early adulthood and then through the adventure that is there in Nintendo.
Miyamoto goes to Nintendo during an era of change - the video game is just being ushered in and the current patriarch of the company Yamauchi, really wants to leave a legacy on the company's history. In this time, Miyamoto is hired, and given the task of packaging Radarscope for a US Market.
A (supposed) conversation between the two highlights Miyamoto's general philosophy:
- memorable characters
- artistic products
- less reliance on violence and more on larger themes.
In Radarscopes place, he creates Donkey Kong, much to the skepticisim of Nintendo's sales force. It ends up being a smash hit. In follow up, he creates Super Mario Brothers, to be bundled in with the Nintendo Entertainment System (the American version of Japan's Famicom). Super Mario has several interesting developments: a boss, a world to explore (giving it epic scale), easy skill hurdle to enter the game, high hurdle to master the skill.
As we follow Miyamoto in the aftermath of this we see a little more of his philosophy. Rather than start with a monster/weapon/spectacle, Miyamoto's game often start with a location, and then the idea: "Where is the fun here?". Philosophy matters, here. Like an old-fashioned toy, many Miyamoto games are largely open-ended, and can just be played ad infinitum, to the hearts content of the player, much like a toy soldier. Who cares about realism, Miyamoto asks, if the fun isn't there to be found. In the modern era, it is interesting to see how current designers have begun to view this as an "old-fashioned" outlook, even though they owe much of the ways that they explore this space TO Miyamoto. In the end, it is very similar to Miyamoto's conflict with Nintendo's early salespeople, looking for the tangible, and Miyamoto, championing the intangible: fun.