Super Mario,The Legend of Zelda,Donkey Kong and the list goes on.Video games that many of us used to play in our early teens in arcades and game consoles in the early 90’s. The man who made all of that possible is Nintendo’s very own gaming guru, Shigeru Miyamoto. Shigeru Miyamoto is a Japanese videogame designer and producer famed mostly for being the man behind the evergreen Mario franchise, which is arguably the most successful videogames franchise of all time.He is often referred to as the “father of modern video gaming”. He is also the same guy who gave us the Nintendo DS and the legendary Nintendo Wii which took gaming to a whole new level with its innovative motion control technology.
Miyamoto was born in Kyoto, Japan. As a young boy, he didn’t really have any toys, so he made his own, out of wood and string. He put on performances with homemade puppets and made cartoon flip-books. He pretended that there were magical realms hidden behind the sliding shoji screens in his family’s little house. There was no television. His parents were of modest means but hardly poor.
As he got older, he used to wander farther afield, on foot or by bike. One day, when he was seven or eight, he came across a hole in the ground. He came back the next day with a lantern and shimmied through the hole and found himself in a small cavern. He could see that passageways led to other chambers. Over the summer, he kept returning to the cave to marvel at the dance of the shadows on the walls. In an interview, Miyamoto stated that as a child he wished he would have a disease that would not harm him, nor be life threatening, but just had to stay in the hospital all day long, so he could doodle.
In 1976, his father got him an interview with Yamauchi the Head of Nintendo Japan. Miyamoto showed the company some toys he’d made which included two wooden clothes hangers for kids in the shape of crows and elephants. What Miyamoto became, however, was Nintendo’s first artist. His breakthrough came after an arcade game called Radar Scope, which Nintendo had hoped would be a hit in America, failed, and he was given the task of coming up with a new game that used the existing hardware.The game he came up with was Donkey Kong. He had in mind a scenario based on Popeye, but Nintendo was unable to secure the rights, so he invented a new set of characters. The hero was called Jumpman and eventually renamed Mario, because of his resemblance to their landlord. To their surprise, the game was a huge hit. This eventually led to the game Super Mario, which also turned out to be a MEGA hit!
He often filled his games with his childlike interpretation of the world as a carnival of quirky perils and hidden delights. Miyamoto has always tried to re-create his childhood wonderment, if not always the actual experiences that gave rise to it, since the experiences themselves may be harder to come by in a paved and partitioned world. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” he told “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation. I wish that children nowadays could have similar experiences, but it’s not very easy.”
It is for the nature of his games, rather than for their commercial success, that Miyamoto is so widely revered. In a poll last year of nine thousand video-game developers, who were asked to name their “ultimate development hero,” Miyamoto was the runaway winner.
What he hasn’t created is a company in his own name, or a vast fortune to go along with it. He is a salaryman. Miyamoto’s business card says that he is the senior marketing director and the general manager of the EAD division at Nintendo Company Ltd.What it does not say is that he is Nintendo’s guiding spirit, its meal ticket, and its playful public face. Miyamoto has said that his main job at Nintendo is ningen kougaku—human engineering. He has been at the company since 1977 and has worked for no other.
Miyamoto is magnanimously considered an example of humility. Despite his obvious value and status, he does not receive a substantial salary, and rides a bicycle to work every day ( Nintendo had to recently force him to use a car due to his importance to the firm).Many of his hobbies have been translated into intellectual property. The Pikmin, Wii Sports, and Wii Fit franchises were inspired by his personal interest in pets, gardening, athletics, and physical fitness, respectively. Although a game designer, he hardly spends time playing games. During his spare time, Miyamoto also plays the guitar and banjo. His pet Shetland Sheep dog even inspired him to create the sleeper hit NintenDogs game franchise.
Today, Shigeru Miyamoto’s place in the spotlight has grown considerably over what it was in years past. He’s been called the “Spielberg” and “Walt Disney” of videogames. He’s been honored with countless awards and praise. There may be no starker example of the conversion of primitive improvisations into structured, commodified, and stationary technological simulation than that of Miyamoto, the rural explorer turned ludic mastermind.
A Very Happy Birthday to you Miyamoto-san!
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