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Miyamoto: "Entertainment is an Unpredictable Industry"

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Not at a point of concern for Wii U as yet

Shigeru Miyamoto, as you've no doubt noticed, has been on a press tour around the U.S., and the most recent port of call seems to have been the New York Times. A number of topics were covered, and in terms of the ever-present question of Wii U momentum the Nintendo executive admitted that he'd naturally like to see sales improve in the short term, but that his confidence in the concept means that "in the long term I’m not at a point where I’m concerned yet".

That's a fairly standard line at the moment, and not surprising considering the range of software that's planned for the remainder of the year and beyond. Perhaps more revealing were some thoughts from Miyamoto on the entertainment industry as a whole, and how Nintendo addresses the continually shifting market.

Entertainment is an unpredictable industry. Entertainment is this thing that moves around from place to place. You have a theme park like Disneyland, and that’s a form of entertainment. And at the same time you have small, downloadable software for your smartphone that you can play, and that’s entertainment. Nintendo’s stance, over all, is that we don’t know where entertainment will take us next.

We look at it in terms of what kinds of experiences do families want in the living room in front of the TV? Because we don’t think that families are going to go away, and we don’t think that TVs are going to go away.

The last couple of years in Japan we’ve seen a huge increase in the adoption of smartphones, to the point where in Japan people are saying, “Maybe I don’t need a console, or I don’t need a portable gaming device.” But this past holiday in Japan we released a game called Animal Crossing: New Leaf that’s coming to the United States this year. And in Japan it has really been a big hit. And what we’re seeing is that the people playing it primarily are adult women. And adult women also happens to be the same group of people that has been rapidly adopting cellphones over the last couple of years.

As long as we’re able to provide an entertainment experience that people want to play, they’re more than happy to purchase another device to carry around with them alongside their smartphone.

...There are sort of two kinds of people. There are the people who say, “Oh, we can repeat that success.” And there are the people who say, “We’re never going to see anything as successful as that again.” What I always say is: “We can make the rules ourselves. Nobody has done it before. We can make it up as we go along.” And that to me is a lot more fun.

Meanwhile, Miyamoto was asked about the installation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that shows 14 different games — though none are from Nintendo. It's not the first video game installation in a museum or art gallery, but did nevertheless provide an opportunity for Miyamoto to share a persective on the "video games as art" debate.

I think the saddest thing about video games is that once the hardware that the game runs on stops operating, the game is gone. And the only way to preserve it then is through video. And so, on the one hand, I’m happy that there’s a facility that’s starting to preserve games in their original state.

At the same time it seems a little strange to me. I still look at video games as entertainment. And it seems strange to me to take entertainment and preserve it as a piece of art per se. But I guess MoMA as a museum, they were one of the first to start preserving industrial design products. With myself being an industrial designer, I’m very grateful to see that, and grateful that they’re also preserving games.

So, what do you think of Miyamoto's comments on the ever-evolving entertainment industry, and his personal distinction of video games as entertainment, as opposed to art? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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User Comments (33)



CanisWolfred said:

Oh man, tell me about it...

Also like his take on the Art museum games, preserving games in their original state will indeed be important someday.



OorWullie said:

The godfather of gaming looks so young for 60 and his enthusiasm for creating new experiences will likely never be seen in the industry again.A true living legend,wish he was my uncle



grimbldoo said:

Miyamoto wrote:

Nobody has done it before. We can make it up as we go along.

This is what I admire Nintendo for, and why it would be a truly sad day if they were to go under. Sony and Microsoft are not willing enough to take the risks that Nintendo takes. Without Nintendo, much of the innovation would disappear.



aaronsullivan said:

This is selfish of me and I really wouldn't want to divide his time, but I'd LOVE to hear Miyamoto san speak fluent english so his ideas come across clearer when he tries to speak to me (english speakers). He has so much energy and so many great things to say. I guess I could learn more than a smidgen of Japanese though, instead.



Amigaengine said:

Five-seveN said:

"I think the saddest thing about video games is that once the hardware that the game runs on stops operating, the game is gone." Just keep it up with the VC!



Mickey said:

I appreciate that he worded the whole "I don't think Video Games are art" thing a lot better...



Solatorobo said:

But vidiya gaems r art jus look at Journey it haz a messag yea it is borin az hell but it haz messag so mus be gud!

But yeah, you don't see like Movie fans going around saying "Appreciate our thing as art!" Just so you know, I do think Games are art, but I think most people are viewing it the wrong way and as such otherwise medicore games (Ie. JOURNEY!) are getting praised to all hell as like some sort of gift from god.



Jaco said:

To me, what he says makes more sense than any other industry analysis out there



NintyMan said:

If he thinks TVs and families aren't going to go away, then that tells me Nintendo won't stop making consoles. I like how he says how its more fun for Nintendo to make its own rules and do something differently, which is something I already know, but it's nice to see again that Nintendo appreciates innovation.



FineLerv said:

You can look at anything as art, or not. People talk like the answer is interwoven in the fabric or the universe but it's ultimately just man conceptualising an experience. A table can be art, a well-cooked meal can be art, sport can be art, a page of programming language can be art. It's all just abstraction.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Now this is why I like Nintendo (besides the amazing game of course) the people there seem to genuinely care about what they do. While many companies treat it like a numbers game and only seem to care about profit, Nintendo treats the industry more like what you'd expect from people who are into local trade and farmers markets.

While I personally don't see games as art, if art can be considered a form of entertainment then I don't see why games can't be considered art. To me there are two kinds of art, that which provokes thought or stirs up emotions and that which is meant to be fun and spice things up. If I were to consider games art then I would consider the majority to be the latter while others are a mix between the two.



Emaan said:

Very interesting read. Always great to hear from Miyamoto and his wisdom!



WindWakerLink said:

The part where Miyamoto says:

"...There are sort of two kinds of people. There are the people who say, “Oh, we can repeat that success.” And there are the people who say, “We’re never going to see anything as successful as that again.” What I always say is: “We can make the rules ourselves. Nobody has done it before. We can make it up as we go along.” And that to me is a lot more fun."

.....that is so true. Nintendo make their own rules and we have fun along the way as the players. He is always saying such cool-wise stuff. ^__^



MeloMan said:

Man... it's words like those that remind me of why I love Miyamoto and Nintendo as a whole. I hope Nintendo continues to be a company that doesn't obsess with the bottom line, but treats everyday as a new experience.



EverythingAmiibo said:

Entertainment requires artestry... to an extent (I'm lookin' at you CoD!) but that doesn't mean you have to treat entertainment as ART, unless it was meant to be (I'm lookin' at you Little Inferno!) it can just be enjoyed as entertainment.



Neram said:

I share the same opinion about the "games as art" subject. To me, video games are entertainment, and just because they utilize the video format as a medium, doesn't mean that they have to be considered art. I think in many cases developers have turned their games into an art form, I'm not saying I don't think it's possible, I'm just saying video games are "games" at their core. Art should always be an afterthought when it comes to video games, I think.



Ichiban said:

call me crazy, but that photo of Shiggy looks like it belongs the front cover of a music cd, a lounge singers latest album.
"get jiggy with shiggy vol.2" perhaps?



GreenDream said:

There was a huge debacle over on Gamasutra last year or so, about when EXACTLY the original Super Mario Bros. was released for the NES. The conclusion: no one knows. There's possible time frames, but no absolutely certain dates.

Isn't that astounding? We don't even have 100% certainty of when one of the most important games of all time was released! Perhaps this is something that Miyamoto is not concerned with, but we are going to run into some MAJOR historical problems fifty or one hundred years from now, if we don't get our record-keeping acts together.

That's the whole point of museums such as this one- to get people talking about real preservation of games in their original state. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time until today's titles are naught but grains of sand, swept away in a vast digital desert. That would be true death. Keeping records of the past is how things live on, even if they do not physically exist in the present time.

As for digital only and online only games, Miyamoto is right- only recorded videos give us an idea of how they proceeded at certain points in their lifetime. There is no way to experience those games in their previous states again. That's one of the main draws of backing up data on physical copies- even if the original copy fails, another can be created, if there is limited copy protection. Someday, none of the remaining NES systems or game cartridges will work...



TromaDogg said:

@Magalor I agree with you 100%, Journey on PS3 was tedious and left me feeling cold (and ripped off out of £10 to play it)....EVERY review I read praised it to high heaven so I decided to take a chance....sure, it's a pretty looking experience but it's also dull as dishwater and the online connectivity with random players just isn't as good as it sounds because you can barely communicate with them in any way, so it's impossible (for me at least) to actually care about them or what they're up to in my game.

Likewise, Little Inferno bored me pretty quickly as well, and no amount of hidden meanings or interesting stylised visuals were going to hide the fact from me that the 'game' only consists of clicking and dragging random objects into a fireplace and burning them. And yet people laughed when 'Cosy Fireplace' was released on WiiWare....

I don't think a game has to be stylised or contain a message to be considered 'art'...all it need do is be well made and a great example of a fun, playable and enjoyable game within it's genre. Give me a great Nintendo title over self indulgent developer claptrap anyday.

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