Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto is a gentleman who is often celebrated as an industry pioneer, having created so many iconic video game characters over the years. Miyamoto-san, now aged 62 years, got his start with Nintendo after graduating from Kanazawa Municipal College of Industrial Arts with his degree in industrial design. Without any job prospects initially out of school, his father was able to arrange an interview with then-president of a small Japanese toy company, Nintendo. After interviewing with Hiroshi Yamauchi, Miyamoto-san was hired as an apprentice in the planning department in 1977.
Miyamoto-san’s art background helped him to become the company’s first artist, where he helped to design the first coin-operated console cabinet, Sheriff. He later went on to conceptualize, and create the new arcade game Donkey Kong under the supervision of Gunpei Yokoi. Following the success of Donkey Kong and its two follow-up games, Miyamoto-san created a new game based on the characters in Donkey Kong, featuring Mario and his brother Luigi, calling it Mario Bros. Thus, that was the start of some of the most amazing characters in video game history.
Being a creative, Miyamoto-san often draws inspiration from different places that seem to go unnoticed by most, and seem to be completely unrelated at the same time. This came to be during the development of The Legend of Zelda. Miyamoto-san drew upon his childhood “adventures” and the sights and sounds of nature. He found inspiration in a lake that he stumbled upon while on a hiking trip up a mountain.
And I drew on that inspiration when we were working on the Legend of Zelda game and we were creating this grand outdoor adventure where you go through these narrowed confined spaces and come upon this great lake. And so it was around that time that I really began to start drawing on my experiences as a child and bringing that into game development…it happens very naturally. After I turned 40, I took up swimming and became very enthusiastic about swimming as a way of exercise. And right after that was when we made Super Mario 64, and I drew on a lot of my experience swimming in creating the underwater swimming scenes with Mario in that game.
What we find is that Miyamoto-san transitioned into a developer who finds inspiration in many different places, and from many different experiences. Whether it’s from hiking up mountainsides, from walking beneath the arches of a temple, or from a love of gardening and the wonder of how small creatures interact, he has not only created some unique experiences, but some of the most memorable in the hearts of gamers around the world!
Shigeru Miyamoto has rightfully been called one of the “fathers” of video games, and the philosophy that has helped him to create so many amazing character franchises is remarkable, to say the least. Being able to draw inspiration from so many places is incredible, and a very rare talent that we are fortunate to be able to benefit from as gamers.
No matter what games you are most drawn to, the philosophy by which Miyamoto-san lives and develops his games is a gift that should never be taken for granted. Are you able to think up concepts of something from seemingly unrelated sources? Have you ever met a Miyamoto-made game that you didn’t like? (laughs, only a bit, though) Which was the last Miyamoto-made game you played or are currently playing?
When I first decided to go to work for a company, I wanted to create things, so I wasn’t looking for a company to work for — I was looking for a company to sponsor me so that I could create the things that I wanted. Because as an artist, that’s really what you want — you want someone to sponsor you as an artist.
The best situation is, as an artist, the company gives you the freedom to create what you want, and the company is able to generate profit off of what you create, and you’ve got the freedom to use as much of that profit as you want to create your next thing. So I’ve never had a reason to leave the company.
As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!