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Interviews

Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto Pt.1

The video games legend speaks exclusively to CVG...

Shigeru Miyamoto is the most successful, influential figure in video games history.

Almost immediately after joining Nintendo in 1977, he created Donkey Kong and Mario - both still gaming leviathans today. Not a bad start in a new job.

Since then, he's gone on to sell hundreds of millions of games - and invented a generation-defining piece of technology in the Wii. Earlier this month, BAFTA rewarded his remarkable career with the Fellowship - the Academy's highest honour.

When CVG sat down with Miyamoto-san shortly before he collected his gong, we asked him about his life, his incredible career - and what the future holds.

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In this first instalment of our giant interview, he discusses his own influences, his formative years and the making of his latest epic, Mario Galaxy 2...

You've often talked about how your childhood influenced the making of your games, but do you take anything from your surroundings today for your work?
Whatever I do in terms of making video games is always influenced through my own experiences. Anything which takes place in front of me or surrounding me has some influence in my way of making games in one way or the other.

It's true that in the past, at the beginning of making my own games, I used to take inspiration from my childhood memories. But quite recently things that have taken place near me or information I can get to on a day-to-day basis has given me some inspiration.

Anything in particular?
As far as Mario Galaxy 2 is concerned, I can't think of one particular memory or experience that has contributed as inspiration to what I incorporated into the design.

However, the way I have been involved in Mario Galaxy 2 is that I have been working with much younger creators, artists and designers. When they propose an idea to me - some character or stage construction, or storyline - sometimes I feel it's something strange that should not be incorporated into any Mario game, or sometimes I find them really good.

[If it's something I don't accept] I then try to identify or explain the reason I felt any disagreement within myself. Then I try to explain to them with my own words.

In that process I'm trying to make together with young people what can eventually be called 'a Mario game', such as Mario Galaxy 2. So rather than relying upon any particular personal experience, I think I've been tried to gather the experiences and memories of working on past Mario games in order to make recent titles.

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More basically, the way I make games is to try and draw out the sympathy from the user. My understanding and belief is that I [in life] have experiencing things in common with many other people [that I can put in my games]. A lot of the time, memories from playing in our childhood have something to do with that.

For example, in Mario Galaxy 2, Yoshi is trying to drag out something deeply rooted from the ground, but it's not simply popping up - you can't expect it will help you try to swallow it. First of all, he has a hard time dragging it out of the ground and then suddenly, when it's leaving the ground it's very quick.

I think anybody must have some kind of sympathy with that and - "I can really relate to that kind of feeling." Or when Mario is falling down from somewhere very high and scary, of course some of us have had an accident or other people have seen friends hurt themselves. So we know how scary it is.

We as game creators have to integrate that kind of sympathy into the making of the game. That's kind of the work I try to explain to the younger development team - how important trying to have sympathy with the game players is, and how we should do so.

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