- Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto, best known as the creator of “Super Mario,” “The Legend of Zelda,” and other hit franchises, is trying to make room for the next generation of leaders at the company.
- Miyamoto actually prefers not to hire gamers; instead, he looks for candidates with other skills and interests.
- Gamers want to perfect what already exists, while Nintendo is about experimentation and finding new ways to have fun, Miyamoto says.
You might think that being a gamer would give you a leg up for a job at Nintendo, one of the world’s leading video game companies.
But it actually could hurt your chances.
As part of his plan to take a step back from the company, Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s legendary game designer, is trying to encourage the next wave of talent to take his place, he told The New York Times in a new interview. But Miyamoto is looking for candidates who come in with no preconceived notions about the industry. That means being a gamer is actually a minus.
“I always look for designers who aren’t super-passionate game fans,” Miyamoto told the Times.
The reason, he said, is people who play a lot of video games are less willing to try new ideas.
“I make it a point to ensure they’re not a gamer, but that they have a lot of different interests and skill sets,” he said.
Miyamoto, best known as the creator of hit Nintendo franchises including “Super Mario,” “Donkey Kong,” and “The Legend of Zelda,” himself didn’t initially have plans to make video games. Instead, he wanted to be an artist. He landed his first gig at Nintendo after showing then-CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi some of his homemade toys.
Relatedly, some of Miyamoto’s greatest video game successes have famously been inspired by aspects of his real life. In many interviews, Miyamoto has noted that 1986’s “The Legend of Zelda” was inspired by his memories of exploring the Kyoto countryside as a kid. And 2001’s strategy game “Pikmin” stemmed from him spending time in his garden.
The Times profile makes clear Miyamoto and Nintendo see this non-traditional approach as a key element in the company’s success, and experimentation as an important part of what’s kept Nintendo relevant for 30-plus years. Even recent Nintendo bestsellers such as “Super Mario Odyssey” and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” have been lauded for being examples of the company’s willingness to take risks with even its most important franchises.
It’s hard to argue with success. A decade ago, Nintendo took a big risk with its Wii game console, which emphasized easy-to-play, fun games rather than fancy graphics, and it paid off. Nintendo sold 101 million Wiis.
While the Wii’s follow-up, the Wii U, was a notorious flop, Nintendo’s new Switch console, which also offers a different take on a game machine, has been a hot item. Nintendo sold 10 million Switches in the device’s first nine months on the market, and the company recently raised its forecast of first-year sales of the gadget from 10 million to 16 million, according to The Times.
Read the full New York Times report here.