Legendary video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto recently came into the Webchats studio for a live show that attracted thousands of questions and tens of thousands of viewers. He talked about Nintendo's most recent handheld console, the Nintendo DS, as well as the latest Nintendo games including - Nintendogs, Animal Crossing: Wild World and Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain. He also answered questions on some of his legendary creations Super Mario Brothers and Zelda.
Murray Norton (MN): Hello and welcome to the show. I’m Murray Norton. My guest this evening is probably the most influential figure in the gaming industry. He’s the creative genius behind such legendary games as Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers and Zelda. Basically, if you’ve played on Nintendo DS, Gamecube, Gameboy advance, NES or even the old Nintendo 64 this man has been involved in it. Shigeru Miyamoto is the General Manager of officially Nintendo’s Entertainment Analysis and Development Division but to millions of course he is just Mr Miyamoto. I’m delighted to say that joining us in the studio is Mr Miyamoto. Thank you very much for coming along, for giving us sometime and a warm warm welcome to Europe to you. It’s great to have you here.
Mr Miyamoto (Mr M): Thank you very much
MN: Before we start we’ve had some 11,000 questions come in before we even go on air and obviously there are thousands and thousands of people watching from all over Europe. You must be delighted with that.
Mr M: Yes, I was simply flabbergasted I could never expect that I was going to receive so many questions and I really appreciate that a lot of the European people are asking me so many questions.
MN: Now, before we start taking your questions let me just first of all send out a huge welcome to the tens of thousands of you who sent questions in before we came on air and the tens of thousands who of course who are joining us on the show. Because of the demand for today’s webchat there have been a few slight technical alterations and that has simply meant that you’ve got a smaller window viewer than you would normally have that’s so that more of you can enjoy the show. Tens of thousands of questions, a lot of them are very very similar we can’t answer all of those questions in the half an hour that we’ve got so we’ve taken a random selection of those questions and we’ve added quite a few of the questions that have been duplicated time and time again so that you can get as many answers out of Mr Miyamoto as possible. The other thing to let you know is that Mr Miyamoto can understand everything that I’m saying because his English is very good but he’s much more comfortable speaking in his own native language – Japanese. Therefore, for those who want to follow this in English there is a translation and a translator’s voice that you hear over the top of Mr Miyamoto’s. For those that wish to follow this in another language there will be a transcript at the bottom of the page.
Well given the time constraints we’ve got let’s start taking some of those questions immediately and our first question comes from Andreas in Germany. Thank you for your question. Mr Miyamoto Andreas from Germany wants to know where does your inspiration to make such original games come from?
Mr M: I actually don’t know where my inspirations come from, there are many different occasions where I pick up great ideas, most of them I try to think about my own hobbies and things that I’m very interested in, based on that I try to construct my game ideas or sometimes my boss or President simply give me the command of what I need to make, actually there are many different occasions sometimes I come to think about great ideas just when chatting with friends, so many different occasions.
Leroy in Holland: When you design games do you come up with a concept and show your colleagues or do you prefer to work on them alone and then unveil them to the team?
Mr M: Well our way of making games are when I come across something very interesting, say during our meetings or chatting with my colleagues and whatnot. Then I talk about that with staff members and then the staff members actually make prototypes or experimental programmes and then we’re going to see that. Then if we think it is possible for us to work on that, then we further discuss. So it’s a repetition of making the ideas, making the prototypes, try to test that. Then the ideas shape up into the final product.
Matthew from Germany: You often speak about fun, what aspects of video games do you find fun and what new types of fun do you think people will be having with games in the future?
Mr M: I myself always want to move my muscles and body, even when you’re playing video games and holding the controller with both hands, I like to feel the physical feeling through the controller, that’s the way I make video games myself. I want people to feel as if they’re experiencing a lot of the physical exercises by holding the controller. Nintendo has invented a very unique and unprecedented controller for the revolution that will be Wi-Fi connected and looking around outside of the revolution there are many other technologies becoming very available. We have the GPS and we have the satellite, we’re going to have PC’s and laptops that are going to be smaller and cheaper. Altogether they’re going to create some great new entertainment…..
Carlos in Spain: As a video game designer, what about Revolution and the Revolution controller excites you most?
Mr M: As game creators what we do is improve the quality of the game contents appearance on the monitors that’s all. However, now that we are creating the revolution and the very unique revolution controllers, things are going to be drastically changed. How to with play video games itself will be changed, specifically how you are going to face your TV set, that’s going to be changed significantly. Specifically as you may know by now that the Nintendo is going to integrate the pointing device into the hand held remote controller. Just imagine, all you have to do is point somewhere to the TV screen and click some buttons and something happens, that image must be very very interesting for you simply because it is going to give you an unusual and unprecedented video game experiences. It’s similar to how you have already felt about touching the DS controller, DS panel switch for the first time with your own hands and now you may opt to choose the separate controllers held in both hands separately, so you’re hands are now going to be as free as ever and you are going to be engaged in unprecedented action. So that what we can imagine is that even though the game itself can be simple enough it’s going to give you sensationally unique gaming experiences. We are now making Mario jump by pointing and clicking just like that, and Zelda just suppose how far you can swing the controller you swing he soars, just like that….
Alfonso in Spain: How are companies reacting to the new way Nintendo are planning to design the controller?
Mr M: These are the people that have already worked on a number of different video games and they have the experience and expertise in making great games in a variety of different genres. However, they were always confined with some of the limitations and the majority of those were to do with the interface. But now with the revolution controller they are given the opportunity to design see what kind of interface they are going to use for themselves. You know after all, that kind of notion itself has expanded the possibility of making unprecedented games.
MN: Right, let’s leave the hardware behind for just a moment and talk about the games themselves. King K Rool in the UK, what about the new Super Mario Brothers compared to the classic games?
Mr M: It’s going to be the Nintendo DS software and when it comes to talking about the Nintendo DS for example, in Japan, there are many people who are processing the Nintendo DS as their very first video game machine in their entire lives. So we are actually thinking in terms of those people as well as other people who are avid Super Mario Fans. When we first introduced the original Super Mario Brothers 1, I understand everybody was interested in, be it the avid gamers, novice players or non-gamers alike we really want to create something similar with the new Super Mario DS. In other words nowadays, we have some concerns even though it’s our own original works, the latest addition of Super Mario series may be too complicated for the people who are going to touch the Nintendo machine for the very first time, we want to go back to basics, so that everyone including the non-gamers and veteran gamers alike, everybody can play and enjoy themselves, that’s the concept behind making the new Super Mario DS. Having said that, Nintendo DS has such powerful processing powers as well as the display capability, it has the two different screen, we are actually taking full advantage of these kind of high tech aspects.
Murray: So many questions about Mario that we’re trying to condense them all. Thank you very much indeed for joining us wherever you are across Europe. We have Mr Miyamoto with us. We’re going to Greece next. Kris in Greece: Do you ever play Mario Cart DS online and if you do, do you ever lose?
Mr M: (laughing) Yes, I thought I was a very good player when it comes to these Mario Card DS, unfortunately however, as soon as I tried the Wi-Fi connection mode of the Mario card, I was very badly defeated so I felt that I would never do it again unfortunately. I think that I need to do more exercises before joining the Wi-fi connection race once again.
Grant in the UK: How is it that Mario is still very chubby because he does a lot of sports, so how is he still so round?
Mr M: (laughing) Even though he looks a little chubby he is kind of muscular in my opinion, I come to think about that and I myself try to be like Mario – not chubby, try to lose my weight even by a little, so Mario can be my role model when it comes to the weight control but if you think he’s chubby, maybe I should let him engage in more sports.
Question from Kirby 192 in France: Will we be able to download items to Animal Crossing Wild World here in Europe?
Mr M: Actually at Nintendo we have already completed almost all the delivered works, and just like in Japan we have already done some of the downloadable items services, we are going to do a similar thing in Europe as well. But unfortunately I’m not in a position to tell you what kind of schedule they have in Europe and what kind of downloadable items are there. But please come visit the site and check out the latest information. But I’m sure in Summer you’re going to see some of those services.
Jeff in the UK: What is your brain age and what do you think of brain training?
Mr M: (Laughing) Well, whenever you try out brain training for the first time, you’re not so good. I’m now 53 years old and I have to confess my brain age was much older, I do not recall how old my brain age was at that time. After a while of doing the exercises I was going to as young as 20 years old. But after a while, I didn’t do the exercises and immediately I became 24 years old, something like that. I need to do the exercises again and again and I recall that I wanted to show off my brain age of 20 years so I paused it and put it on save to show it around to the people around me.
Kirsty in Sweden: I really love Nintendogs. What do you think of it and why do you think it’s so popular?
Mr M: Actually I’m wondering myself, but the reason why we came up with the idea, I have my own pet dog/companion animal. I noticed as soon as I started having my own dog, a great many around me had their own dogs, and among themselves they communicate with each other about so many subjects of the dog and that was a surprise to me, that so many people around me were actually talking over their dogs and I thought it was a great idea for us to deal with the subject of dogs in the video game, that’s how we came up with the original concept of Nintendogs and that kind of attractive points about the Nintendogs have been conveyed to animal lovers of dogs. And while we’re on the subject of the Nintendo DS functionality what we really wanted to do with Nintendogs was to have good communications with puppies. We thought the touch panel and microphone would be very good functions for us to tackle with, how to enable such unusual communications with puppies. So we have to attribute the success to those kind of unique mechanism incorporated into the Nintendo DS hardware.
Wong in the UK: What do you think of the success enjoyed by the DS light in Japan so far?
Mr M: This is the Nintendo DS only available right now in the Japan market as you can see it’s smaller and thinner than the original Nintendo DS and lighter than that. All in all, we are trying to improve it’s portability, even the portable Nintendo DS right now, only available in Japan right now, however we are now trying to ship as many of them into Japan as we can at the moment. However just as we ship the new hardware units in the market, they are being snapped up by consumers. Demand there is just growing and supply cannot catch up with that. That’s how the DS Light is selling in Japan.
Enough about games for the moment. All sorts of questions coming in.
Rashoodeus in the UK: Newcomer studios Nibris and Crossbeam have recently announced several Nintendo-exclusive games they wish to develop. Do you think such small teams can succeed and will Nintendo support them?
Mr M: In this industry, to make one game we are now required to have a huge team and a long time to make the games. Or maybe the game designers misunderstand that as if we need a great many developers in order to create one single masterpiece and I think that’s unfortunate because for example the fact of the matter is that the Nintendo DS is actually giving out some unique development opportunities for the game developers. Just an example using the Brain Training game that is going to hit the European market pretty soon, in order to create brain training game, we need a very small number of team member and they spent a very short time period creating this very successful game software, so actually by introducing such unique hardware like the Nintendo DS with a unique interface, Nintendo is always trying to support those small team members with the great ideas all the time.
Christian in France: When I grow up I want to be a game designer. What education and qualifications do I need and can you give me any tips?
Mr M: When I was young there was no such career as game designer/producer as there weren’t any video games at all. So, what worked well for my career, I was studying some aspects of arts myself seriously, and now if I could advise anything for the people who are future video designers, I think I shall say you should be a kind of professional in a certain area for yourself. I hope you can make something with your own hands, be engaged in a great many things, try to experience as many things as possible, at school, I was engaged in many activities, such as playing baseball outside. At college I formed a music band and played instruments and what not. I recall I have done a lot of things aside from the school curriculum, those kind of extra experiences have helped me think of many great ideas as a game designer.
Murray: That was probably the most popular question out of the tens of thousands we’ve had in. Just a few minutes left and a few personal questions if I may.
Maniac in France: How does it feel to receive a French culture award?
Mr M: I have it with me now. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I have received it for myself. For the past 20 years or so, I’ve been working with a lot of my friends that create great games. I received this award as a representative of so many colleagues whom I have worked with for so many years. I thought it was an important opportunity for us to receive this great award in France. There were a total 3 gaming designers who received this award in Paris the other day and we all agreed that this was a great opportunity because the France Govt has recognised video games as a form of art and culture so we are very very honoured to receive this great honour.
Roger in Belgium: What do you do in your spare time?
Mr M: Whenever I have spare time I try to spend it with my family, plus I like playing or practising the guitar – a rather unusual instrument called Doboro guitar and of course taking my dog for a walk is a very important walk for me all the time.
MN: Where do you see gaming in the future going?
Mr M: Nobody can tell what will happen in 10 years time, after all we are dealing with the entertainment business we are not dealing with daily necessity commodities at all. However, what I can tell you is that technology is evolving very quickly so that ther are so many different types of applications. Maybe in 10 years time the PC will have a different shape from the PC of today. We have so many different gadgets like satellites orbiting around the earth emitting sonar rays and we are going to have may other devices available. Maybe we will not have to carry around disks or programmes at all, maybe there will be some other format to store some of the entertainment information, there will not be a single one mechanism there are number of different gadgets which may or may not be able to be connected with each other in order to form a whole new entertainment.
MN: The future is certainly exciting. We have had tens of thousands of questions. It’s been a most amazing response. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. Before we go, there have been one or two little cheeky questions…
Barb in Holland: Will you marry me?
Mr M: (Laughing) First of all, I really don’t want to get divorced with my current wife!
MN: Well I guess that answers that question. Sorry Barb, but the man is already taken. That’s it from us. Thank you very much indeed for joining us in your tens of thousands for the show and also for asking your questions as well. Thank you so much sir for coming in and for answering as many as you possibly could.
Mr M: Thank you for watching. I’m sorry that I couldn’t answer all your questions.
MN: Thank you very much indeed. I hope you’ll join us next time on the show.