Shigeru Miyamoto – Steven Spielberg of video games industry
Legends aren’t created, they are born – Unknown
I am sure of most of the gamers know of this legend. He is simply the godfather of video games. His artwork design, his philosophy on video games, his ridiculous attention to details in video games has inspired millions and continue to do so. Belonging to an industry that has grown into a garbage churning machine, this man has managed to retain and preserve the essence of video games.
In a time, when investors and the board constantly pressurise companies to release games every year or sometimes biannually. This has become almost a norm, to keep raking the dough and filling the pockets of shareholders, creativity in video games is on the verge of extinction. Hence he has been titled as the Spielberg of video game industry.
A chosen one will inherit the industry – Verse 52, chapter 88 of the Gaming Bible!
As the messages inscribed in great mythologies, about the revolution and redemption, talking about a Messiah who would be sent to purge the world of its sin. This person seems like a messiah who has come to revolutionise the industry and purge it. At the pace with which the industry is currently surfing the tide, we can predict that death may be the destination.
In times like this, we have a legend who dares to go against the tide and start a wave as a centripetal force within this sea of chaos. With so much at stake, a man who has pursued his heart and made video gaming a mainstream culture that is played by gamers of every age is none other than Shigeru Miyamoto.
November 16th, 1952 – Let the date be known!
Shigeru was born on November 16, 1952, in a Japanese town Sonobe. Born to a lower middle-class family, Shigeru’s father used to teach English for a living. Shigeru completed his high-school to later graduate from Kanazawa Municipal College of Industrial Arts with a degree in industrial design. Raised in an environment with limited means, Shigeru was mostly isolated and spent his time doodling and walking around the rural city.
Wondering around his village, Shigeru stumbled upon a cave that seemed frightening yet mysterious. Every now and then, he strolled around the cave with an intention to explore it, but he never mustered enough courage to witness the mysteries that were hidden in the cave.
A cave in a village = Legend of Zelda = Mindblown
With every passing day, his curiosity grew and his fascination caused a ripple of excitement to run through his veins. So, one fine day, he was so intrigued that he was drawn to the cave by a hidden force inside him. Shigeru Miyamoto later describes in his philosophy, that this compelling fascination to explore led to the inception of one of the world’s greatest and most phenomenal adventure RPG game of all time “Legends of Zelda.”
Later, as Nintendo switched from playing cards business into the world of video games, Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto joined the team. He designed and developed various artwork and character design which was his passion. He did find inspiration from various anime and Disney characters as well. His obsession for becoming a manga artist did not fade, in fact, it did amplify with this opportunity. Creation of brand-defining characters became possible, confident by the release of his first game Donkey Kong, Shigeru Miyamoto started working on its sequels.
Obsession for Perfection – A common illness in an artist
Although Shigeru has a friendly public persona, he is tireless in his effort for perfection. Miyamoto would endlessly think, focussing his mind on the creation of the perfect character. His visual thinking ability helps him to visualise the tiniest detail of a character, also to add a layer of physics so the character looks like a realistic creature.
Also, he is continuously refining his artwork, as with every creation he finds a flaw to be addressed that he incorporates in the subsequent character models. With his increasing frustration and obsession to create a character that would succeed the creation of Donkey Kong, Shigeru’s team created sheriff.
Donkey Kong – First commercial success
Compelled by the company to conform to deadlines and release a game, Sheriff was created. Shigeru knew that it wasn’t something his mind has been pre-occupied with. Following the release, he was unhappy how things turned out. He started sketching and visualizing the character that was spinning in his head for more than 2 years now. He designed a character that seemed to be drawn out of jump-man and had a pudgy appearance.
Mario – Greatest video franchise of all time- Guess how the name ‘Mario’ come into being?
He designed a character that seemed to be drawn out of jump-man and had a pudgy appearance. Before he laid it out to public, he spent hours to design it to perfection. He made the character with a prominent moustache, who was to sport the appearance of a carpenter.
Later he re-sketched it to make the art character look like an Italian plumber, who was dressed in a blue jumpsuit and red shirt, with white gloves and brown rounded shoes. At the same time, Nintendo in America, had its American warehouse landlord, demanding back rent. To settle the conflict Nintendo gave in to the landlord’s demands and named this character sketch after the name of the landlord i.e Mario Segale.
Moreover, to overcome the technological shortcomings of that time, Miyamoto designed Mario with a cap to avoid designing hairstyle. His moustache was big enough to cover his mouth, so another less thing to worry about for Nintendo. Clever, well played Sir, well played!!
Transition from a 2d model to a 3d model
Shigeru Miyamoto was fascinated with the evolution of games from a 2d to a 3d model, hence his method of approach to sketch a character also changed. He perceived two characters in a 3d model, one the main protagonist who is playable and visible to the gamers. Second, another person who walks around with the protagonist holding a camera focussed on the primary character.
3d model appealed to Miyamoto, who welcomed this challenge and altered his method to view a character. Now he viewed a character in 3d model, imagining the weight, size and density to fit into a character. Similarly, he imagined the challenges that would emerge to add shades of personality to this character, his voice, weight etc. From then on, it is history, one of the most popular franchises ever to be born in the gaming industry happened.
Super Mario was an elixir not only for Nintendo but also the entire video game industry
Super Mario Bros was created for Nintendo Entertainment System in the year 1985, which was highly sought after and well acclaimed by everyone globally. Miyamoto single handedly revived a dying game industry with Mario. Eventually, Mario has become one of hottest franchise in the gaming industry generating billions of dollar in revenue.
After the success of Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto started created games at a faster pace as his idea of a game and character reverberated with everyone. He started the development of another game that would soon become famous world-wide.
Basing his experience of cave exploration that he felt in his village, he got fixated in the inception of Legends of Zelda. Another game that has a cult following globally was created by him. His extreme dedication and joy to make games that made people happy were the sole reason for Nintendo to grow their legacy as a brand. Unlike other game developers who rushed to launch a new series every year or even bi-annually, Miyamoto believed to produce games that would continue to be played long after its release.
His undying love and passion for passing the joy of gaming
He applied philosophy to every game he created, hence each game connected with the consumers. The essence of a game, the gameplay, storyline was always the main focus of Shigeru Miyamoto. Love for his craft and vocation gave him a new perspective to look at game development, Nintendo fans loyalty has been growing and strengthening with every passing generation.
To date, Shigeru Miyamoto has been the front runner for the production of 92 games in various roles as part of the team. He is really a living legend and has stayed true to the gamers. Focusing on great gameplay and entertainment value to the games that he makes has impacted our lives. Since he has signed a contract with Nintendo, he was been associated with it ever since and gamers from different platform die to get a taste of his games.
Steven Spielberg – Shigeru Miyamoto of Hollywood industry, a more appropriate title?
Although we can hope for a Mario or Legend of Zelda or any other classic Miyamoto games on other platforms, it is definitely never going to happen. So instead of expecting the impossible, I suggest you pick up a switch from stores near you to experience Miyamoto’s game that is fuelled by passion and joy over greed.
Miyamoto is a name that has become synonymous with video games and it is bound to become even a greater name. A 1995 article in Maximum stated that “in gaming circles, Miyamoto’s name carries far more weight than Steven Spielberg’s could ever sustain.” Makes me re-think, should I rename the title of the article to “Shigeru Miyamoto: Everything Steven Spielberg couldn’t be”
Let me know in the comment below, do you think he Shigeru is ever going to move to a different company? Comment!