Interview:Time Digital April 23rd 1999

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Time Digital April 23rd 1999


April 23, 1999



Time Digital


Shigeru Miyamoto talks with Time Digital about several of his game franchises including Ocarina of Time.



Time Digital: You describe the Legend of Zelda, which follows the medieval adventures of a boy named Link, as a "foolishly perfect" world. What do you mean?
Shigeru Miyamoto: We all worked so hard to make the details as thorough as possible. It would have taken a lifetime to complete the product if we'd kept polishing the natural look of wind, ripples on the water, dust and so forth. And in 10 years' time, this will be old technology. But at this moment, what we've made is very close to the real world. And it looks beautiful because of the basic capabilities of Nintendo 64 and of our game designers.
Time Digital: What gave you the idea to make Super Mario Brothers a game about a plumber who chases creatures around in the sewage pipes of New York City?
SM: I liked the idea of a game where creatures would move from top to bottom onscreen and then back up again. When I thought about what kind of creatures those should be, turtles and crabs just seemed like a good fit. Since there are lots of pipes underground, I decided to use those for the creatures to move along. While I had never been to New York, I liked what I had seen of the city in movies and imagined that it must have a huge underground world that would be a perfect setting for the game.
Time Digital: What about Donkey Kong?
SM: I wanted to make it painstakingly difficult to climb upward, so I chose the settings of a building under construction and a ship's gangway where obstacles were constantly falling down and getting in the way. I like the image of a barrel rolling down a gangway -- it's fun to look at, you know? As for the character, who finds a beautiful lady while climbing, I got the idea from "King Kong" and "Popeye." Like King Kong, Donkey Kong is a climbing gorilla who finds a lady. But Donkey Kong is also silly, in the same way that Bluto is silly as he tries to steal Olive Oyl from Popeye.
Time Digital: What can children learn from your games?
SM: First, I want to entertain them in a fresh, surprising way. Second, I'd like to make something in which the players develop their own ideas and vision. Rather than reward them for a single, correct answer, our games encourage them to think of alternatives that lead to different results. I want players to become creative and actively involved. I'm grateful that our games are selling well, considering that people often seek more passive forms of entertainment.
Time Digital: Over the years, there's been endless criticism that there's just too much violence in video games. What about the games you make -- is the issue of violence something that affects you?
SM: Well, we're very considerate of the fact that young kids play our games. And I try not to use violence as an easy means of expression. It's easier to make people cry than laugh. It's easier to use violence than to describe particular emotions. And it's easier to use blood than to express a certain kind of terror in other ways. It's OK to use violence with quality and for a purpose, but I want to avoid using violence as an easy means just to seek stimulus. We don't have to use it if we have other creative means of expression.
Time Digital: I know your next video game is a secret, but can you tell me in general what you're thinking about?
SM: I like to think beyond the realm of video games to get new ideas. For example, I like how the game Pikachu Genkidechu uses voice recognition to detect players' voices and respond to what they say. Another gamemaker, Konami, has developed a software program called beatmania (Hiphopmania in the U.S.) that lets players create music by pressing buttons on a keyboard or by scratching a turntable shown onscreen.
Time Digital: What do you like best about making video games? And what's most challenging?
SM: The best part is that I can freely create games I enjoy, almost like an artist. Designers of cars, on the other hand, can't do that because the company may not want to invest that much money in a new design or assembly plant. The challenging part is figuring out how to create a game that people will understand. Sometimes we don't realize how difficult a certain part of the game is for general players, while other times we make parts too easy. Things don't always work out as I imagined.
Time Digital: What would you do if video games didn't exist?
SM: Well, I think that I'd develop educational toys, like Rubik's Cubes, or create intelligent entertainment products. You know, I joined Nintendo to make products that use ideas and intelligence, and they just turned out to be video games.