As Nintendo reaches its 130th birthday, producers Shinya Takahashi and Hisashi Nogami met with The Guardian to talk about the company’s video gaming history, and Nintendo’s creative process in the modern day.
Here are the highlights:
- Shinya Takahashi reflected upon how while nowadays, social media can tell you how people are reacting to the game immediately, back then it wasn’t possible. They’d have to go look in the toy stores and look at the faces of the players as they were playing, and if they looked surprised, happy, or laughed, he’d think, “Yes, we did it!”
- The Switch was flipped, so to speak, when people actually got their hands on the console and began to spread info on the console via word-of-mouth. Before release, it was very difficult for them to explain the concept of a home console that could be brought anywhere. According to Nogami, who joined Nintendo in 1994, “It never gets any easier.” He later added, “It’s on us to create things that allow players to experience that ‘wow’ moment.”
- Even among Nintendo developers, there are doubts about Nintendo’s consoles at first. For example, when the Wiimote was introduced to the devs, they asked, “What is that? Is it real? Will it actually work?” Only by trying it did they immediately get the idea. The same went for the Switch, up until the point they saw Mario Kart 8 Deluxe running perfectly on the device.
- On Nintendo’s approach to brainstorming ideas: “Right now, because people of different generations are now working together, they’re always coming up with different ideas about how best to provide a meaningful surprise to players. And I think our job is combining these different ideas to create brand new ways of entertaining people. If we notice that only the senior male employees are gathering together to discuss an idea, one of us will say: we need to get some different perspectives on this.” Rather than just focusing on different generations, Nintendo brings in developers with varied interests and different backgrounds.
- Takahashi and Nogami joked that Miyamoto is something of a mythical figure at Nintendo, and helps identify major issues of entire projects. Praise is rare, but partially it’s because Miyamoto is actually quite shy. Nogami claimed that he had never been praised by Miyamoto, to which Takahashi retorted that he just never heard the praise himself, and that Miyamoto was very pleased with Nogami.
- Nogami on the increasing number of gamers: “It used to be just children, but now it’s a whole huge swathe of people. Seeing lots of generations playing and enjoying themselves, that’s the biggest thing that has changed for me … I don’t think that the general player knows just how much work goes into making a game, but then I also don’t think they necessarily need to know.”