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A peek inside the mind of one of gaming's biggest legends

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If you've been gaming as long as I have (that's more than three decades), then you've most probably played at least a few video games made by Shigeru Miyamoto. I spend hours playing Donkey Kong on arcade machines and grabbed whatever play time I could on my friends Game Boy when it released years later. Miyamoto is perhaps best know as the man behind Mario, one of gaming's most beloved icons, whose fame even spread to TV and film.

Miyamoto joined Nintendo in 1977, and his games have been on every single Nintendo console - almost four decades of video game development. The Nintendo Switch releases in March, and it's the first console he wasn't actively involved with, rather leaving it to "younger people in the company." (Miyamoto in an interview with glixel.)

A few days ago, Vox did a fascinating video about Miyamoto, titled "How the inventor of Mario designs a game." It allows the viewer a rare glimpse into the mind of one of gaming's biggest legends.

Did you know that back in 1998 when online gaming was a thing; Miyamoto distanced himself from it, saying, "It's a trend. And I try to avoid all trends." In 2016 he was under pressure to capitalize on the cash cow that was in-game mobile purchase for games, in his case, Mario for iPhone. Miyamoto explains that he isn't the kind of person who responds well to being told to do something because "that's the way you do it." 

When asked, "What makes a video game great," Miyamoto explained that video games must have something for the player to accomplish, something that will leave them with that sense of satisfaction. They second key thing is immersion, where the player must feel they "become a hero."

One of Miyamoto's greatest success was Donkey Kong, and there's an interesting story behind it. His first project at Nintendo (1981), was to rescue the 2000 odd Arcade units that no one wanted to buy because the game on it, Radar Scope (1979) was a huge failure. Miyamoto wanted the new game to be about the love triangle between Popeye, Olive, and Bluto, a well know cartoon by Elzie Crisler Segar. Nintendo couldn't secure the rights to a Popeye game; so Miyamoto replaced him with a gorilla, Bluto with a carpenter, and Olive with his real life girlfriend. And so Donkey Kong was born, and it went on to win seven Guinness World Records.

The phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong" became such a trend that Nintendo filed a trademark for it in 2010. Donkey Kong's plumber later became Mr. Video, then Jumpman, who eventually morphed into Mario - based on a Nintendo warehouse landlord from Seattle.

The thing I found most fascinating in the video, was when Miyamoto explained why he approached game design so different from his peers. "Well, early on, the people who made video games, they were technologists, they were programmers, they were hardware designers. But I wasn't. I was a designer, I studied industrial design, I was an artist, I drew pictures. And so I think that it was in my generation that people who made video games really became designers rather than technologists."

You can check the video below, courtesy of Vox YouTube.

Miyamoto photo credit

Han: Twitter / MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

"It's on like Donkey Kong"

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