It’s hard to imagine Nintendo without the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of such iconic gaming franchises as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Star Fox and Pikmin, as a creative force behind the scenes. One day however, the 70-year-old creative director will have to hang up the red plumber’s hat and finally retire from the company on which he’s left his indelible mark since 1977.
Although the thought of what Nintendo will be like when Shigeru Miyamoto leaves is a poignant and appalling one for many Nintendo fans, the “Walt Disney of electronic gaming” believes that the company will be just fine without him and that it won’t be irrevocably changed either.
“You know, I really feel like it’s not going to change,” Miyamoto said in a sit-down with NPR.
Miyamoto went on to explain that even though one day he’ll no longer be with the company, the people on the executive team and the creators of future games still have an understanding of “what it is to be Nintendo,” and a shared vision on top of that.
“It’s probably going to be the same. There’s, you know, people on the executive team, creators within the company and also people who create Mario, they all have this sense of what it means to be Nintendo,” Miyamoto explained. “And so it’s not like there’s a lot of different opinions that go back and forth. Everyone has an understanding, this kind of shared understanding, of what it is to be Nintendo. And so even when there’s new ideas that come up, there’s always the fact that it’s a new idea, but also the fact that, is it a new idea that really has the essence of Nintendo or not? And I think that’s something that, you know – we have this incredible shared vision, almost a little scary shared vision, about this. So I think there won’t – it’s not going to change.”
The comments made by Miyamoto on what Nintendo will be like when he leaves are full of the humility, as is custom with the iconic creator. Even as far back as 1996, when comparisons were made by publications such as Time Magazine likening Miyamoto to director Steven Spielberg or visionary Walt Disney, Miyamoto would dismiss such comparisons.
“As you said, I’ve also been called the Spielberg of the game world,” Miyamoto told Gamespot, “but I actually don’t like that. I’m Miyamoto. Miyamoto is Miyamoto and Nintendo is Nintendo. However, I do feel very honored to be compared with Disney. But with that said, rather than comparing Nintendo to Disney, I feel that Disney to some extent, especially for families, [represents] a sense of reassurance for families.”
Though Miyamoto was reluctant to acknowledge comparisons of himself with Walt Disney, he didn’t shy from making a comparison between one of Disney’s most beloved and enduring creations, Mickey Mouse, and a similar creation of his own, Mario.
When asked what he thought made Mario such a beloved and enduring character, Miyamoto told NPR, “You know, before, when I was asked this question, I thought that it’s perhaps because the game sold well. And a lot of people have this experience of playing this game and playing it over and over, that it becomes commonplace for them. But now I feel that it’s a little bit different in that Mario is kind of like a – your avatar or the person that represents you in this world. And that experience is, you know, because it’s been around for so long, an experience that can be shared multi-generations, you know? A father and their children can share that experience.”
Miyamoto added that Mario, much like Mickey Mouse, is a character that was around at the nascency of a new medium of entertainment and grew alongside it in commensurate fashion.
“And I really think another factor is the fact that Mario was created as a character within an interactive medium,” Miyamoto continued. “So for example, if I maybe, you know, drew Mario as a comic book character, I don’t think he would have had this much staying power. You know, there was a time when people might have compared Mario with Mickey Mouse. And, you know, Mickey Mouse is a character that was born, you know, 50 years before my time and was obviously still around in my generation. And I really felt like Mickey Mouse as a character grew alongside the medium of animation. And in that same vein, I feel that Mario is growing alongside this digital medium.”
What do you think of the comments made by Miyamoto on what Nintendo will be like when he leaves? Do you think Nintendo will change when the legendary creator retires? Let us know in the comments.
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