When Satoru Iwata sadly passed away on 11th July 2015, it was clear that the 'NX' - as it was then called - would be a representation of his vision; it had been announced earlier that year, undoubtedly with the core design and principles in place.
It's known now as the Switch, of course, and it's just a couple of weeks away from release. TIME has published an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto talking about some of his ideas and the ethos that drives the company, among other topics. Asked about the role of Satoru Iwata in the development of the Switch, Miyamoto-san highlighted how the former President led the core concept.
I mentioned that Mr. Iwata, Mr. Takeda and myself provided feedback and made decisions, but ultimately Mr. Iwata was the head of development, so he put a lot of thought and time into Switch. I think that the idea of Nintendo Switch being a device you can take out and anywhere, and the idea of it being a system that really allows networking and communicating with people, I think that's something Mr. Iwata put a lot of emphasis on.
Because Mr. Iwata was tech-savvy, a lot of our discussion involved trying to figure out how to make the technical things like network capabilities or servers or whatever fun. For example, think about when we added the ability to use a browser on the DS [Nintendo's two-screen gaming handheld—the browser was added to North American systems in 2007]. As time goes on, all of these services become more and more advanced, and so we need to think about "How do we incorporate mobile devices or new browser features that come up?" That's something Mr. Iwata and I discussed a lot, really trying to decide what to do and what not to do in our hardware.
Miyamoto-san was also asked about Nintendo's drive for creativity, citing Hiroshi Yamauchi's well-known remarks around avoiding staleness. Miyamoto-san makes some interesting points about the company's philosophy - it's not a company that 'fights', but feels it can always be number one in delivering fun.
Mr. Yamauchi had a kind of a personal philosophy, which was that he didn't hold a personal philosophy. What's really interesting is that, even though this was how he lived, he left several lasting nuggets of philosophy to the company. One of them was like, because we were profitable by providing fun experiences, that we should only use money to create fun. What this means is that what we as business owners look forward to is not increasing our company, but expanding our work.
So because Mr. Yamauchi had that philosophy and he said that consistently, it made work a lot easier for us. We didn't have to think about all the other things. All we had to think about was, really, providing fun. There's also the idea of having this original thought, a unique thought, which means not doing the same thing as other people. This is something obvious in the world: If you're trying to do the same thing as everyone else, you get further and further from the top.
If you want to be in second place or third place, you can do what other people are doing. I mean, you'll have to put a lot of effort and work into it. If you're doing something on your own, something unique, when the spotlight hits, you're already at the top before you know it. So that's why I feel like, in the world of fun, there's only number one. And that's why I think you've got to take risks to become number one. If you want to be number one by doing the same thing as other people, you've got to be kind of tough.
And because we're not tough, we can't fight with other people. [Miyamoto holds up his fists and laughs.] I think this really coincides and equates to what the entertainment industry is like, anything with the creative industry, and it links to terms like blue ocean or red ocean. This is something that Mr. Iwata did, to really link the philosophy of Nintendo to some of the business and corporate jargon, while also being able to convey that to all of the employees at Nintendo.
The final section we want to pick out is a little quirkier - it transpires that in his spare time Shigeru Miyamoto has been working on a hammock for his cat.
When I'm told that maybe I don't need to go to work for a few days, I worry that I don't have things to do, so I try to make sure there are things in my personal life that I can really work on too. So my garden looks really good now. I've been spending months just hoeing. [Laughs] And I made a cat hammock. I took a stool and then kind of pulled it apart and put it together so it's like a hammock for a cat.
Even when I place him in it he runs away. It's not quite there yet.
It's certainly worth checking out the full interview at the link below, as Miyamoto-san talks a little more about the Switch, VR and AI.
With the Switch now so close, it'll be interesting to see how it develops and represents those Nintendo philosophies of fun and creativity.
With thanks to SLIGEACH_EIRE for the heads up.