Shigeru Miyamoto is unquestionably one of Nintendo’s key staffers, and one of the most important figures in the video game industry, full stop. His creations have sold millions of copies, and he’s been involved in almost every aspect of Nintendo’s business for decades. However, at 68, he’s no spring chicken, and the topic of who will replace him once he retires has been floated on more than one occasion.
A superb interview with The New Yorker has given Miyamoto another chance to answer that question, and his response is interesting. He is asked what his ambitions are at this point in his glittering career, and he replies:
In terms of Nintendo’s business, the core idea is to create a harmony between hardware and software. It’s taken about ten years, but I feel that the younger generation here is now fully able to uphold that foundational principle. For my part, I want to continue to pursue my interests. Nintendo has expanded into new areas of design, such as the theme park I’ve been working on. When you think about it, theme-park design is similar to video-game design, though it’s fully focussed on the hardware side. In one sense, I’m an amateur again. But as these rides become more interactive, that’s where our expertise will be put to good use. This mixing of our experience with new contexts might be one of the most interesting endeavors for my remaining years.
The interviewer then asks if there’s any similarity between Miyamoto and the story of Willy Wonka, who arranges an elaborate competition to find his direct replacement at the fictional chocolate factory:
As the company has gained new competitors over the years, it’s given us an opportunity to think deeply about what makes Nintendo Nintendo. [President] Shuntaro Furukawa is currently in his forties, and [general manager] Shinya Takahashi is in his fifties; we are moving toward a position that will insure the spirit of Nintendo is passed down successfully. I am not concerned about that anymore. Now I’m focussing on the need to continue to find new experiences. This has always been what interested and excited me about the medium: not perfecting the old but discovering the new.