The legendary Shigeru Miyamoto brought attendees of last night's Game Developer's Choice Awards to their feet when he received the Lifetime Achievement award. Today, Miyamoto had the chance to share the vision Nintendo used when designing the DS and the Wii. In a keynote focused solely on development, he outlined the three keys to their corporate vision, and the elements that make up his own outlook on game design. No explosive new titles or plans were announced, but in its own way Miyamoto's quiet call to arms was powerful and exciting. Read on for a few notes of my own, and links to coverage from other sites.With an enthusiastic introduction from GDC director Jamil Moledina, the keynote beings. A GDC 07 Keynote Wii Channel is shown on screen, and the crowd goes nuts as a Jamil and Miyamoto Miis are displayed. Bill Toyden is there as well to translate. Miyamoto-san is here today to illustrate three points about the Nintendo vision, and their corporate outlook.
The first is the concept of expanded audience. He illustrates using a very humorous story about the notching up of the 'wife-o-meter'. Miyamoto's wife, historically not a big gamer, has been converted by games like Nintendogs, Wii Sports, and the concept behind the Wii.
The second concept is balance. At Nintendo, engineers and software developers work closely together. He talks about the development of the Wiimote, which was a long process involving numerous iterations and members from a number of different teams. They took the balance to the extreme, taking software and hardware discussions down blind alleys and in numerous directions. They wondered if they even needed a new console, with the advent of popular handheld systems.
He sees console-making as a responsibility, though. They have to make games, make fun games, and make tools available to allow game developers to make new and interesting experiences.
The third concept is risk.The company took on the challenge of questioning what exactly is a videogame. The DS and its games are the perfect example. The ultimate goal was fun, again. The Wii was the ultimate risk. GameCube was just a half step, with the large A button. With the Wii they had to choose to keep evolving the hardware or go down a new path.
There were concerns for everyone in the company. Miyamoto acted as an evangelist inside the company. "Don't think about what will be lost, concentrate on what will be gained." The more he talked about it with Mr. Iwata, the better both of them felt about it. It wasn't until last E3 when they knew the risk was worth taking.
Corporate vision is essential, but corps don't make videogames: people do. (Lots of cheers at that statement.) He wants to share his own personal vision, then. His primary focus in development is not individual elements; the vision that he keeps is the core element of fun in the game. He imagines the face of the gamer while they're playing the game. As an entertainer, he wants to be entertained.
Emotion, then, is what he focuses on. He wants things to be positive, but whatever emotion you're aiming for is fine. As long as you want to draw out something in specific from a player, you've succeeded.
I know these notes are very brief, but Mr. Miyamoto spoke at length in very high-level terms. Overall, I will say that the crowd seemed less attentive than it did at the end of Sony's event yesterday. Applause were still very loud when he brought his comments to an end, and my feeling was that many developers were affected by his words. On the way out through the crowds, many people were talking about how the statements he made applied to the work they did every single day. So despite Nintendo's decision not to make news today, Mr. Miyamoto still managed to affect the lives of the people in attendance today.