Miyamoto stepping down!

This may come as a bit of a shock, but it’s a day we all knew was coming.  Shigeru Miyamoto isn’t a spring chicken anymore (He’s 59) and he’s decided to retire.  However as Reuters has pointed out (And Nintendo PR is saying) that doesn’t actually mean that he’s retiring.  He’s really just retiring from running the large projects, the Zelda’s and Mario’s.

This comes from an interview that he did with Wired.com.

Inside our office, I’ve been recently declaring, ‘I’m going to retire, I’m going to retire. I’m not saying that I’m going to retire from game development altogether. What I mean by retiring is, retiring from my current position.”

What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself, Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small. In other words, I’m not intending to start from things that require a five-year development time.

Honestly? Fair enough.  He’s been working on the majour Nintendo projects (and creating the characters) since 1981’s Donkey Kong, and that’s a solid 30 years of work.  He’s been focussing a lot on training the younger generation of programmers, and I suppose he feels ready to step down.  This is especially interesting because of what Miyamoto means to Nintendo, and gaming in general.  Media in Japan would often ask him what his new hobbies were, because they would often influence the games that Nintendo would make, or the features that they would add.  For example in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you are able to play a pretty robust (for the time) fishing game in Zelda.  This is because Miyamoto had taken up fishing and wanted to see if it would be fun in the game, and it turned into a special part of what Zelda has become.

You might disagree, and say that in a position of power that he would be able to train the younger generation better, but he has been doing that for quite a while and addressed that line of thought:

The reason why I’m stressing that is that unless I say that I’m retiring, I cannot nurture the young developers. After all, if I’m there in my position as it is, then there’s always kind of a relationship. And the young guys are always kind of in a situation where they have to listen to my ideas. But I need some people who are growing up much more than today.

I think a perfect example of that is in MarioKart 7. One of the excellent new features is the ability to customize your kart, so you can play around with how the characters and kart pieces interact.  It’s a vital part of most racing franchises, and something that I think does MarioKart a great deal of good.  However as I pointed out in my preview, he didn’t want it.  He relented when his staff agreed they would create an awesome racing experience before tinkering with it like that.  I’m glad he relented, because it’s a new idea and it’s welcome.

Now I know most Nintendo fans love the latest iteration of the franchise, and they do innovate in their own very Nintendo way.  However, I do have to wonder if Miyamoto stepping down will lead the way for new takes on established franchises, and give us new IP and new experiences.  Either way, it will be fascinating to see what happens at Nintendo over the next couple years.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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