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sábado, 25 de abril de 2015

To read: a story about Shigeru Miyamoto

If you like videogames enough to have the curiosity to learn more about the history and the names behind the game world, it is very likely that you already heard about Shigeru Miyamoto.

Despite the fact that he worked his whole life on Nintendo, creating famous characters and series like Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Star Fox, among others, even if you never played his games, they have reached you, because they influenced the industry in many ways. He also had significant participation in design choices of game controllers and consoles, another thing that also had great influence on the game world.

Back in December 2010 the magazine The New Yorker had a special story about him, telling about his childhood, about how his childhood had impact in his later games and showing a little about his ways of thinking games and his role inside Nintendo today.

It is not a short text, I myself had it saved on the cellphone to read here and there, but is worthy of your time, specially if you like games, or Nintendo, or creative people.

From everything that I read, I wanna comment briefly about two parts of the story that got my attention and that perhaps can give you motives to read the whole thing.

The first one is when he speaks about what he considers to be his great occupation inside Nintendo. He says it is ningen kougaku - something like "people engineering" - in other words, to act as some sort of mentor in almost all projects developed inside the company with the intention to stimulate talents, teach values, point directions and so on. That's why any Nintendo developer, when giving a interview, alway have a tale like "and Mr. Miyamoto was the one who gave us this idea", or "that suggested this change", or "that made me think about this". I don't know if it is something more personal about the way I feel about the corporative world and all the rest of the days of today, but I find to be fascinating people really willing to share what they know and to help other people to accomplish things, offering opportunities and a help that is really a help. Leaderships that have something to add and that do add, you know what I mean?

The second part is about one of these teachings that he tries to pass to the teams, something that he calls kyokan - something like "sharing of the common feeling". The example he gives to explain it is to image a man, let's call him "Mr. Mario", and let's imagine that he is a father talking about his son. If the person that is listening to Mr. Mario also have a son, he can connect to the things Mr. Mario is saying in a personal level. This relation of understanding of emotion is kyokan.

In games, this concept is found when a experience is being created to make the player feel some specific emotion, being it of wonder, of wining, of evolution, of challenge, of sense of adventure, that is the same that the team developing the game had when imaged the game or that was intended the player to feel.

One of the examples he gives is the way the difficulty of a game should gradually rise, in a way that the player without noticing is being prepared to more complex situations that would look hard enough to feel like a challenge, but since he is prepared to be there, although the challenge is real, it is balanced in a way that the player can beat it and get a feeling of accomplishment, of evolution and so on. If you ever played a Mario, or a Zelda game (just to name two), you know how this feeling is present. I think it is very interesting to see that the focus is on the emotion, given that the build up a game is a more mechanical process. If we think a little, it really makes sense. What makes we love games is not the process of running and jumping endless cliffs to avoid or stomp on the head of a turtle, it is the emotion we feel when we do it. It is about feeling, not about looks or deeds.

Drifting a little, I like to see how this experiences we have in games are retained with the player after the game is finished or shutdown. Many people would have more courage to face the challenges of life if they had before faced challenges in games. Who plays or have played videogames for some time and have to deal with people that have never played a thing knows what I mean, no? And just to use the word of the day, if you know what I mean by this, you and I have kyokan (oh, yeah! fireworks!! hahahahaha!)

So, if you are interested in reading the whole story about Mr. Miyamoto, and I hope you are, just click here.