GDC 2007: Gettin Shiggy wit it

Miyamoto is a charming man, which is not a huge surprise. This morning in his GDC keynote, he chose the tradtional route of outlining Nintendo’s corporate focus as well as his own for the past, present and future. While many of the Wii’s haters are going to blow off this keynote as unimportant, I think there were some things said that were more essential than we realize in the general scheme of things.

Shig starts at the beginning, showing us some Donkey Kong pics and reminding us about where he got started. He explained in 2004, different kinds of games had hit the limelight and developers felt great pressure to follow the trend of where games were going to keep up. However, this vision was not the same as Nintendo’s vision, and its at this point that he explains to us what exactly that is.

“The Nintendo Difference”, as Miyamoto calls it, is made up of several key points that affect a person’s interest in a game. The clever “Wife-o-Meter”, a gauge of how much Miyamoto’s wife likes a game or not, seems to be to be a general analogy for how much Nintendo is concerned with including women in the gaming universe. He is one of the only developers in the market so far to stress that he cares about the concept of combining family and gaming rather than alienating them and accepting gaming and relationships will always clash. For this writer, that concept is more important than perfect graphics.

In discussing Nintendo’s devotion to entertainment, Miyamoto stresses that while he has been a part of all controller design since the NES, all projects at Nintendo are a group collaboration. It strikes me as impressive that while many companies find it more than worthwhile to focus attention on single designers, Nintendo prefers a team aspect. In general this is an approach that not only unites people, but also their ideas. Even in the design of the Wiimote and all controllers before it, Nintendo  continues to press the point that accessibility to all players, young and old, is key.

Bottom line? The most important thought expressed here was that while the next gen era of gaming is a natural evolvement, it does not appeal to every player. As a gamer who is often attracted to old games before new, I can completely understand and agree with that. Nintendo will have its haters, as every system does. However, they thrill me in their desire to dedicate their vision to the human experience of having fun and including everyone. That’s more courage than I’ve seen from a lot of this industry, and I applaud it.

Colette Bennett