Shigeru Miyamoto is one of the most famous names in video game design. And even casual gamers who don’t recognize him by name are probably familiar with his work. He’s the man behind everything from Donkey Kong to Super Mario Bros. to The Legend Of Zelda. And he also helped design the Nintendo controllers that defined so many childhoods in the ’80s and ’90s. That’s a lot of iconography for one man to create. And in this new video, Vox sits down with the 64-year-old designer to ask him about his design process.
Miyamoto credits his success with his early days as an industrial designer. Unlike other video game creators who were technicians and programmers first, Miyamoto brought a true artistic sensibility to his work. He started from a place of character and story before designing game play, rather than the other way around, as was common at the time. Throughout his long career, he’s also kept a focus on simplicity. As Miyamoto’s done before, Vox breaks down the way Super Mario Bros.’ first level is perfectly designed to teach basic game mechanics to new players without it being obvious that’s what’s happening.
Throughout the video, Miyamoto comes across as a thoughtful but fun presence—as he usually does. During his long career he’s pushed back on the idea that he should do something just because everyone else is doing it. And he’s able to break down game creation into a handful of concepts. As he explains, “I think [the first step] is that a game needs a sense of accomplishment. And you have to have a sense that you have done something, so that you get that sense of satisfaction of completing something.”
The whole video ostensibly exists just to plug Nintendo’s new Super Mario Run game for iOS, which was released last month (an Android version is set for 2017). But Miyamoto is such a likable presence, it’s hard to fault him for the hustle.