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Nintendo's Miyamoto On Competition, Retirement
Nintendo's Miyamoto On Competition, Retirement
April 19, 2010 | By Kris Graft

April 19, 2010 | By Kris Graft

At 57 years old, Shigeru Miyamoto is approaching retirement age, but he doesn't think he'll ever stop making video games, he recently told UK games publication GamesTM.

"I am one of [Nintendo's] workers and the company has to retire me some time. So from that perspective, yes I may have to retire from Nintendo some day," he said.

"But when I look around and see how aged cartoonists continue to work on their manga and how movie directors create new movies all the time, I understand that they would never retire," Miyamoto added. "And by the same token, I guess I will still be making games somehow. The only question is whether the younger people will be willing to work with me at that far point in the future."

Miyamoto has created some of the game industry's most iconic characters, including Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda, as well as more recent games like Wii Fit. Currently he serves as director and general manager at Nintendo EAD (Entertainment Analysis and Development) in Japan. He's been with the company since the late 1970s.

Miyamoto hasn't had much time to think about retirement lately, as he's been working closely on the upcoming Super Mario Galaxy 2 for Wii, due next month. It will be the first numbered Mario sequel in many years.

During the subsequent 16-bit era, Mario wasn't the only platformer genre heavy-hitter. Nintendo was in close competition with Sega and its Sonic the Hedgehog and various other company mascots. These days, with Mario dominating the mascot-based platformer landscape, Miyamoto said that his games were never about competition.

"From the beginning of my career … I have never approached development in terms of competing with any other existing or future game software from other companies at all," he said. "Our own goal is to try to make some unique games that cannot be compared with anything else on the marketplace, so I think that because there are no rivals to Mario Galaxy 2, we really needed to make a game that people consider to be very new."

He continued, "Of course, there is also some fear that if there are fewer creators working in this particular genre then that might mean that the audience for platform games will grow smaller. However, looking from a different perspective, I think that as long as we can successfully communicate the appeal of the genre then it is possible that a great many people will be intrigued enough to play."

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Ken Masters
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Bob: I share some of your concerns about the Zelda series. It is my favorite videogame series and I'm not pleased by how stagnant it's become and it's lack of challenge. But I don't think Miyamoto is the person to blame for that. Eiji Aonuma is. Majora's Mask was his magnum opus and it's the closest he's ever gotten to his goal of topping Ocarina of Time. I think it's time for a new director for Zelda titles or perhaps Miyamoto could direct the next one himself (though I doubt that'll happen).

Adam Piotuch
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Why you haten'? Miyamoto is the man!

Dan Fabulich
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"It will be the first numbered Mario sequel since Super Mario Bros. 3 for the 8-bit NES, a game released originally in Japan in 1988." How do you figure? I guess you're ignoring "Mario Party 8" (2007) and Super Mario 64 (1996), but what about Super Mario World 2 (1995)?

Daniel Martinez
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Miyamoto close to retirement? :( we're getting old! Quickly, back into the Epoch and return to 1985!

brandon sheffield
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Dan, I suppose that does count - changed the article to reflect.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Dan Fabulich

The author of the article is referring more to the Super Mario Bros. games than the games that revolve around the Mario franchise (like the Mario Party games). Also, Super Mario 64 was named after the fact that it was released for the N64, so it is not a numbered Super Mario Bros. game. However, you are correct about Super Mario World 2 and I was thinking the same thing, but then again, there's the issue that the game was more of a Yoshi game than a Super Mario Bros. (even though Super Mario World 2 was the sequel to the Super Mario Bros. game, Super Mario World). If you consider all those factors, then author is right in that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the first numbered Super Mario Bros. sequel since the original 8-bit trilogy. Of course, this is all based on technicalities!

Edit: I re-read the article, so I apologize for the previous errors (which were fixed). I didn't realize that it was the author himself that said about the whole "numbered sequel" issue, as I was reading too fast before. This is why I have to start reading slowly!

P.S.: It appears that the article has been fixed.

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The day he retires or dies is the day I sit at my computer and weep. Not afraid to admit it. Ever since the SNES (and partly the NES), he has filled my time with amazing games that I would play again.

Russell Carroll
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I don't think of Zelda when I think of Miyamoto, I think of games like WiiFit and WiiMusic, games that are pushing gaming to be more than it is. I'm glad he's continuing on despite the disheartening angst and often straight-up hatred spewed by "gamers" in his general direction over doing things that are different. (nobody ever said being different was easy)

I also look forward to my pre-ordered SMG2 and am glad he continues to service fans of SMB, Zelda, and all those more traditional types of games.

Daniel Lam
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I agree with Russell. He's not directly working on Zelda games anymore as much as he used to. His concentration has always been to try new and innovative things. Zelda and Mario just happened to be one of them at the time. We have just pigeon-holed him as much as we have labeled Michael Jackson.

Wii Fit and Wii Music are highly innovative and new, so it shows that Miyamoto really hasn't lost his touch, or his sight on his goals.

Irving Rivas
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I do think Zelda, and Mario, when I think Miyamoto, but I think about those in context, which I guess would sum up on agreeing with Russell on pretty much everything else.

But particularly,I think Zelda and Mario: going to places, saving the princess, defeating the evil monsters. It's a thing of perspective, I guess, for I don't think too much of any Zelda games after Ocarina of Time, or any Mario games after Super Mario RPG, games which I actively play once in a while.

Now, about him stopping making video games, or younger people not wanting to work with him, I see that as highly unlikely... I mean, anyone not wanting to do a game with Miyamoto is an exception.

Sean Parton
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@Irving Rivas: Miyamoto specifically is the one who said he sees young people down the road as not wanting to work with him, and I'm guessing he's saying that partly in jest. He probably figures that down the road, he's going to become "that old guy" who many people around the office think is flat out nuts, irrespective of how good or off target his ideas are. And if you take into account how differently some designers think from most people (especially the good ones that come up with innovative and flat out awesome ideas), it makes a lot of sense.

Or he could be flat out joking. The context given in the article doesn't seem to imply that, but it wouldn't be the first time that a quote of his implied different context than what he meant (which happens many times he's quoted, not just on Gamasutra but no matter what sources you have).