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Miyamoto: I Wanted To Patent Jumping In Games

Posted by Damien McFerran

Nintendo's latest Q&A session reveals an amusing tid-bit

Nintendo's regular "Iwata Asks" Q&A sessions have thrown up some interesting points and the latest one - featuring Shigeru Miyamoto - is no exception.

Miyamoto: After Mario Bros., there were a fair few jumping-style games released by various companies and I felt that this kind of jumping game had been our idea.

Iwata: Donkey Kong involved jumping, as did Mario Bros., so you felt that Nintendo were the real originators of this kind of game.

Miyamoto: I did. I went as far as thinking that jumping is an original idea and that it should be patented! Anyway, I thought: "Right, I'm not going to let those other games top us!" (laughs)

The comment is obviously made in jest but stranger things have happened in the video game industry. Just imagine if Nintendo had patented the ability to jump in platform games...chances are, the gaming landscape would be a lot different to how it is now!

Be sure to check out the rest of the interview for some interesting points regarding the development of the Mario series.


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User Comments (35)



JimLad said:

Ah they would have got round it somehow, claimed that it wasn't jumping but in fact 'falling upwards' or that in every level there was an invisible anti-gravity ray that follows the character everywhere.



Sean_Aaron said:

I think if Nintendo had patented platforming games I'd probably have a higher regard for them than I do, having played far too many uninspired ones in the past which killed my enthusiasm for them.

The fact that the Super Mario Bros. pack-in with the NES was exactly like the arcade game (yes fanboys it was an arcade game first!) was a big selling point for me; too bad the other arcade ports on the system were generally inferior, Rygar, Ninja Gaiden, et al.



V8_Ninja said:

That's very...odd to say the least. Wonder what the world would be like if Nintendo had patented jumping. Nintendo would probably rule the world. Not that surprising to me.



y2josh said:

@Sean: After I made a comment about that I figured that would end up being the case, so I take back my lol.



JakobG said:

I wish I could go back to the 70s, invent a physic engine and patent it.



Egg_miester said:

just imagine id he did patent jumping no more annoying losers in fps games jumping around they think its funny and it makes games like wow more fun not being able to jump



RyuZebian said:

A universal jump-patent or just for side scrollers? I doubt that a patent covering any jumping in game what-so-ever would be allowed... x)



blank_user_1 said:

Patents are tricky things, but I'm pretty sure I've never heard of a patent for a game mechanic.



Brainhost said:

He should've done it. The world (or at least the games of today) would be so much different then .



Percentful said:

@The Fox didn't I read you were a lawyer in the forums? Anyways, is it even legal [I know there's a better word for it but I can't think of one now] to patent a video game mechanic? If he did patent it, the video game world would be very different right now.



Ren said:

I think it's totally possible to have done at the time since it was arguably a new thing in games and could be characterized as a "type" of game as he said. Sure there would be many loopholes later, but I could totally see it happening, stranger things have been patented. The shade of Yellow in the McDonalds logo is patented, for one. That hue is literally only used in that logo and can't be used in other product logos.



zappajustin said:

Didn't PITFALL have the jumping down before Nintendo anyway? It's as crazy as trying to patent the podcast technology.... oh wait they are already doing that...



Raylax said:

Nah, the gaming landscape would be the same. But lots of characters would be wearing short-distance fairly-ineffective jetpacks instead.

Boing boing boing WAHOOO



Slapshot said:

Im glad that one didnt happen. Almost ALL of the franchises that exist wouldn't if it had happened. That would have obliterated the gaming market.



SuperTrainStationH said:

Gaming mechanics can be patented, like the Super Guide in Mario Bros Wii, or the awesome targeting system used in the PS2's Mark of Kri. But if Nintendo were really able to patent the idea of jumping, it would have been patent abuse for sure.



StarDust4Ever said:

Also one of my other favorite classic moves, although Wario got it long before Mario ever did, the butt-pound!

I don't believe that "jumping" in and of itself could be patented. But you can patent a game engine, for example, realistic 2D physics, such as Super Mario Brothers, the character needs to follow a hyperbolic trajectory when plotted by time/height, meaning that the character will jump up, slow down, and then fall to ground. Also there are additional nuances, such as duration of the "A" button pressed controlling max height, and a limit to the maximum fall speed. The mathematical equations and operatiors used to plot the trajectory of said character could be patented, but not the player's ability to jump. If another company created a different physics engine for jumping, it would not fall within the patent. There were a lot of cheap 3rd party games that used poor engines, and it showed during gameplay (Yes Spelunker, I'm talking about YOU).

In Super Mario Brothers, Mario's jumps/falls are hyperbolic, as well as thrown hammers and fireballs, which makes for a believable gameplay experience. However, a kicked koopa shell travels only in linear paths. Try kicking a koopa shell off a platform in world 3-1 to see what I mean. It's path simply bends at a downward angle when it leaves platforms. It would have broke the game if all Mario's movements were like that. BTW, even the shell trajectories were fixed in Mario 3 and later.

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