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NES (Games) Classic Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Shigeru Miyamoto, The Walt Disney of Our Time 195

circletimessquare writes "The New York Times has a gushing portrait of Shigeru Miyamoto. His creative successes have spanned almost 30 years, from Donkey Kong, to Mario (as well known as Mickey Mouse around the world, the story notes), to Zelda, to the Wii, and now to Wii Fit — which according to some initial rumors is selling out across the globe in its debut. The article has some gems of insight into the man's thinking, including that his iconic characters are an afterthought. Gameplay comes first, and the characters are designed around that. Additionally, his fame and finances and ego are refreshingly modest for someone of his high regard and creative stature: 'despite being royalty at Nintendo and a cult figure, he almost comes across as just another salaryman (though a particularly creative and happy one) with a wife and two school-age children at home near Kyoto. He is not tabloid fodder, and he seems to maintain a relatively nondescript lifestyle.'"
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Shigeru Miyamoto, The Walt Disney of Our Time

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  • by pedantic bore ( 740196 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @03:57PM (#23537827)

    Umm... how many Japanese people do you know?

    I haven't noticed any lack of creativity. They do seem a bit more preoccupied with consensus and protocol, which gives the appearance of a lack of spontaneity, but don't let that fool you the way it fooled the American automotive industry, or the semiconductor world, or the consumer electronics world (or the anime world...).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:02PM (#23537889)

    (or the anime world...).
    Seriously, anyone who has seen anime has got to admit that not only are the japanese creative, but that they can also be batshit friggan insanely creative to the point of seeming incoherent.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:09PM (#23537951)

    they can also be batshit friggan insanely creative to the point of seeming incoherent.
    Tentacle hentai is perfectly coherent. They're demons, they have lots and lots of tentacles, and they like using them. What's so hard to understand?

    Though I do understand your point. They're not incoherent though - Americans just aren't used to having to be observant. They'll have several shots containing different information, then mention the combination of information later without spoon-feeding it to the viewer.
  • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:21PM (#23538037) Homepage
    If I recall correctly, Disney wasn't particularly well-liked by his employees or colleagues.

    A creative force to be reckoned with, to be sure. However, not a terribly ethical individual on the other hand.

    I can easily see how the analogy works, though I'm not quite sure I'd like to be compared to Walt Disney....
  • Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fan of lem ( 1092395 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:27PM (#23538079) Journal
    Hayao Miyazaki []?
  • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:34PM (#23538119)
    You've got to be kidding me. The interfaces of Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros and The Legend Of Zelda don't work? Well, these guys [] disagree and so do I. I doubt that you actually tried playing these games recently, because I really don't understand what problems you could be having. Screen and controller are basically the same as in present games. I play lots of games that are 10 years or older on a regular basis and the stuff created by Shigeru Miyamoto stands the test of time without a doubt. The fact that the graphics and sounds are outdated doesn't mean the games are not a lot of fun to play.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:52PM (#23538223) Journal
    I agree. I also think it is entirely foolish for us to imagine that Chinese or Indians will be content indefinitely to do all the hard work while the bosses at our importer / branding companies (such as Levis and Nike) take most of the profits.

    That is exactly what a lot of Asian economies seem to actually want. It seems they fear they will lose their work ethic if they outsource the "real work" to cheaper nations, and thus they keep their currencies artificially low and do not help boost local consumption. The US instead outsources a lot of the detailed work, turning us into marketers and lawyers instead of actual "producers". Whether this is a good thing or not depends on what you want to achieve. It has killed our manufacturing base and is eating into programming and hands-on tech jobs, but also gives us lots of shinny cheap trinkets and fat cars.
  • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:08PM (#23538329) Homepage

    I haven't noticed any lack of creativity. [..] but don't let that fool you the way it fooled the American automotive industry
    I agree with you that any alleged Japanese "lack of creativity" is a myth that should be thoroughly discredited by now; they were coming up with games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man almost 30 years ago.

    However, if the situation in the US is remotely like that in the UK, I doubt that it was this "creativity" that let them take over the car industry. While they may have released some interesting cars over the years, the ones that brought them success in the UK were hardly radical or interesting.

    No, let me rephrase that; they *were* radical in that (unlike most British cars of the 1970s) they included nice stuff like car radios as standard, were good value for money, and most notably were reliable. (Okay, so the early ones rusted badly in the UK climate, but so did a lot of cars at that time, and they seemed to get round that quite quickly).

    But interesting in terms of design and appearance mass-market Japanese cars of the 1970s-1990s certainly weren't. In fact, I daresay that it's many of those cars that gave them a reliable-but-unimaginative reputation.
  • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pancake Bandit ( 987571 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:42PM (#23538527)
    Hideo Kojima, Sid Meier, Yuji Naka, Gunpei Yokoi, Will Wright
  • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Digestromath ( 1190577 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:57PM (#23538603)
    I can name a few successful designers, but not all of them good.

    Sid Meier

    Will Wright

    John Carmack

    John Romero

    Richard Garriot

    Satoshi Tajiri

    Hideo Kojima

    Hironobu Sakaguchi

    Peter Molyneux (Who I consider the Uwe Boll of gaming)

    In terms of brand power and overall sales I'd say Tajiri (Pokemon) and Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts) are perhaps on par. They aren't nearly as 'iconic' though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:12PM (#23538729)

    Yeah, I can't bear the pun of cremation as the polar opposite of being frozen.
    The polar opposite of an ursine myth is the truth about Goldilocks.
  • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:20PM (#23538777)
    I forgot Rockstar. Sam Houser.
  • by hiruhl ( 1171697 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:40PM (#23538885)

    Well, okay, I'm talking about things that are 20 years old, not ten, I guess the N64 isn't as easy on the user as the NES and SNES. But would you really say that games like Super Mario World are no longer playable?
    The games that weren't easy on the user are from SNES or earlier (mostly earlier). The games were only a few hours long (if that), if you could actually beat them. Many of them are, however, completely impossible to beat.

    Starting with the N64/Playstation era, games have become much, MUCH easier, as a whole. Realistic save features, in-game tutorials, and more coherent hints at how to accomplish certain tasks make these newer games easier, to name a few reasons. Basically, a game doesn't have to be impossible anymore to give the player a decent amount of time with the game. Also, companies realized more people will be satisfied with a game when they can actually beat it.

    True, some old games were not tough-as-nails difficult (especially from the SNES era, like Super Mario World, as you mentioned -- they started getting easier, already, then), but many of them were. These games have already lost their appeal, mostly. The more accessible games have not, but the younger generation of gamers are not as turned on by these games as they are newer games.

    I think the original poster has a point that in 50 years people will not want to play these games. Some people will, but not the mainstream. Games will probably be similar to other media, like music and (as the OP alluded to) movies. For instance, I like music from when my parents were kids, but not much before that. There are a lot of people who are into classical music, and silent films, and old media, but these people are very niche. In 50 years, there will be people who enjoy playing Pacman, Super Mario World, and Grand Theft Auto IV, but this will not be mainstream taste among gamers.

    As a side note, I will add my prediction that games like GTA IV and Guitar Hero will probably be even less recognized than Pacman or Mario games, in the distant future. The GTA series is very much a reflection of modern pop-culture, and thus, I would argue, has more of a time-stamp on it. Pong, Pacman, Space Invaders, Zelda, and Spore, for example, will age better, as the concepts behind them do not bear such a time-stamp.

    This is one reason Miyamoto is reasonably heralded as such a genius. Not only is he responsible for resurrecting the industry, as well as ushering it into the mainstream, but the concepts he creates are enduring. They are not to be bogged down by ties to what is now modern and soon to be outmoded. His ideas are quite timeless, although clearly the technology that delivers them is not.
  • by kklein ( 900361 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:52PM (#23538935)

    My old officemate from Singapore, who only lived here (Japan) 3 years as opposed to my 7, figured it out, I think.

    Historically, Japan has had a highly connected, functioning, modern economy for much longer than most places. Even though they were technologically backward when the West came chugging in, socially, they may have been better developed. This might explain why they were able to retool and thrive even as the world political landscape changed in the late 1800s. It was a matter of acquiring new physical tools, not new values (there were some radical changes in values as well--but not to the extent that, say, Papua New Guinea faces).

    Because of this, part of the culture is an understanding that you are just a cog in a machine. The downside to that is that I find that people are generally incompetent, by my standards. BUT, get them in their field, and they are often stunning. They know absolutely everything about it, and it consumes their mental life. I mean, if they care. The mean is just kinda plodding along, same as anywhere.

    So, whereas we conceptualize creativity as a trait which will manifest itself everywhere, it may be that the Japanese simply focus on one single thing. This would explain a lot, like how a nation where seemingly no one knows how an internal combustion engine works, even conceptually, can be the unchallenged master of the world automotive industry...

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @08:19PM (#23539503) Homepage Journal
    I don't think it is every useful to presume abilities based on race. For instance, American laboratories are full of scientists of every ethnicity doing creative work, and American shops are full of americans that have never had a creative thought. It depends on the person.

    What is clear that many countries, particularly in Asia, are really good at teaching children to pass tests, while other countries, such as the US, tended to have a much less goal oriented, less standardized, curriculum which could be argued to foster creativity. A reasonable intelligent and creative person could get through the social hazing project we called school, perhaps get through college, and then get on with the American past time or creating wealth. of course this left some people without an education, which is why we are now obsessed with tests. Make sure that every students is educated to same remedial level, just like the rest of the world. And before commenting on who smart the immigrants you meet on the street are, remember that those are the best of the best.

    In any case, the issue with american car makers is not one of intelligence or creativity, but one of arrogance. It was basically assumed that chauvinism would prevail and that people, in a free market that uses competition to fuel innovation no less, choose an inferior more expensive product. The arrogance cost the automakers thier bussinesses, and the American Taxpayers untold millions in a bailout.

    The sad thing is that much of what the japanese did, at least to some degree, was to apply US technology. The US auto manufacturers would not invest in applying the technology. The US manufacturers would not plan for the rainy day. They felt the US government would take care of them with protectionist measures and bailouts, just like now. Back in 2000 it was written that oil prices were going to plummet due to oversupply, even though growth in India and Japan made it clear that the competition for the commodity was at best going to keep prices stable, and more than likely cause modest growth. So they continued to count on legislative loopholes and other sweetheart deals and continued to produce cars that now has us with only two, and perhaps one, viable auto maker.

    Which is to nothing is simple. In the US we turn out all sorts of people, many who are innovative and creative. If one limits the sample to college prep school, we produce test takers to rival anyone in the world. We are a vibrant enough country with the best integration skills so we can attract the best talent. Which is good, because after about the third generation, it seems taht the ability of an US person to be innovative in the marketplace sags. Which is why our car industry is kaput. The hungry bugger nipping at our toes simply has more to gain, so works harder to get it. Most of us eat and have a reasonable place to stay no matter how lazy we are.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:44AM (#23540951) Journal
    In order for Barrack Obama to shatter that stereotype, it would have to be true that the stereotype wasn't already shattered by pretty much every other black there is just going about their daily lives.

    However, it is evident that if it were possible for Barrack to shatter that stereotype, conditions would have to be such that the stereotype had the unfortunate circumstance of also being true.

    So it's actually a pretty condescending thing to say about blacks that they would need some public figure to "dispel" a stereotype.

    I'm not sure what stereotypes Obama would be capable of dispelling. Perhaps ones involving black democratic politicians who are aloof enough for a stereotype to form without sufficient direct experience to contradict it. But is Obama aloof?
  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Monday May 26, 2008 @09:26AM (#23543801)
    I think Code Geass which ran on TV at the same time as Death Note is comparable though if you like smart and thinking characters I'd go with a good book instead (Asimov's Foundation series is one I liked).

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