Legendary video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto sat down with IGN recently to talk about the upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie, which hits theaters on April 7th, and will feature music aspects, as well as voice talent from Chris Pratt, Jack Black and Keegan Michael Key. He also talked about Super Nintendo World, a new themed area opening at Universal Studios.
Of course, what is a Miyamoto interview without steering the conversation towards video games and making video games, two areas in which Miyamoto is a certified maestro? During the interview, Miyamoto also gave some insight into his philosophy on the creation of video games and his thoughts on what makes a video game successful. In Miyamoto’s mind, one of the most important facets of a video game is for the player to be able to pick the game up, recognize how to play it quickly and easily and then making it so that the player is able to play the game for while “naturally” developing joy for the game through his core gameplay loop.
“When we’re working on games, one of the most important things is for the player to be able to recognize and understand quickly and easily how to play the game,” Miyamoto explained. “And once you have that down, then the joy of playing the game is naturally born within the player. And then there’s the other additional kind of layer to video games in that when you’re playing games, you are going to be playing it for a long time – days and weeks and months. And so the creative aspect happens in creating the depth for that person… for the person to be able to play the game for a long time.”
Miyamoto was also asked about his rumored aversion to complex storytelling in video games, with the interviewer asking about Miyamoto “putting the kibosh on ambitious narratives.” Miyamoto explained that it wasn’t complex stories that he found unnecessary, but that reliance on story in a game rather than the gameplay itself can “pull some of the enjoyment” from the game itself and that ambitious narratives weren’t necessarily the wrong way to design a game — it’s just not the way he prefers to make games himself.
“It’s not that complex stories are unnecessary, that’s not what I’m saying at all,” Miyamoto said. “Story is one way of explaining a game. I think story is just another way to pull out enjoyment from that experience. Another is to focus on a gameplay experience that gets you to try things over and over again. As I mentioned, story is one way to explain the game, and when that goes well sometimes people take the route of starting with the story. For me, the starting story is how to make the gameplay fun, and that’s how I begin thinking about and creating a game. So again, it’s not that story is unnecessary,” he reiterated, “it’s just how I create games.”
What do you think of the comments made by Shigeru Miyamoto on one of the most important elements of game design? Do you agree with his philosophy on what the emphasis should be on creating an enjoyable gaming experience? Let us know in the comments.