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Miyamoto laments gaming's "creative immaturity"

Miyamoto laments gaming's "creative immaturity"

Thu 03 Jul 2014 3:39pm GMT / 11:39am EDT / 8:39am PDT
Development

Designer says majority of E3 was "bloody shooter software," points to comics, movies as media where creators challenge themselves more

Shigeru Miyamoto was not impressed with what he saw from the competition at E3. In a recently published Q&A from Nintendo's annual general meeting of shareholders, Miyamoto recapped the company's performance at last month's trade show, then weighed in on the rest of the field.

"Every year a number of companies exhibit at E3 and Nintendo is compared with other companies, most likely with Sony and Microsoft," Miyamoto said. "This year, the majority of what the other developers exhibited was bloody shooter software that was mainly set in violent surroundings or, in a different sense, realistic and cool worlds. Because so many software developers are competing in that category, it seemed like most of the titles at the show were of that kind."

The Mario and Zelda creator underscored how much Nintendo's lineup of games stood out from the crowd, saying its own efforts were games families could feel safe with. The issue came up again later in the shareholder meeting, when an investor asked about how current turmoil in the gaming industry relates to previous upheavals in other creative media. Miyamoto responded that it was important to learn from other industries, and again reflected on what he saw at E3.

"[T]o some, it might have seemed as though there wasn't a wide variety of software at E3, and as though many people followed the same direction to make their video games. I believe this is a revelation of creative immaturity on our part as creators in the video game industry," Miyamoto said.

To shed light on why, the designer brought up an observation by former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi, who said that in entertainment, "only one can become strong and all of the others will become weak." Miyamoto said the quote was meant to describe a phenomenon in entertainment, where one company creates an unprecedented offering, competitors attempt to copy that and customers then go with the original because there's no need to adopt the follow-on efforts.

"My comment may be at risk of being misinterpreted, but in the digital content field, I think that our creativity is still immature," Miyamoto said. "In the world of comic books and movies, there are people who are challenging themselves to be even more creative than before in creating their content. I believe that we (those who are creating digital content called video games) are still in a transitional period and will eventually step up into the phases where we expand and enrich the substance of our creativity. If we can manage Nintendo without losing sight of this challenge, I believe we might be able to create new entertainment that dominates the industry."

11 Comments

Christopher Ashton Carlos Software Programmer

12 41 3.4
I would have to agree in some sense. While it is not true completely, IMO, I just think we need to show more games that are varied and make them the headlines. The indie development scene has done a great job at exploring new ideas and portraying games in a different way. Not all Indie games however are like that either, but ones that stand are are because they do take some risks and creative liberty. A lot of mainstream games are just that, marketed to the widest audience possible. How many Summer movies are all about action and drama? A lot of each market is flooded with mainstream problems, movies and comic books are no exception, but I do wish we would sometimes forgo the "bloody shooter" image a lot of games go for these days. Sunset Overdrive and Splatoon are shooters, one is even made by Nintendo, but they do some very different mechanics and concepts that I think makes them really unique and stand out. I'd like some more creative mixes like that sometimes in my games, and sometimes I just want a mindless brute shooting countless waves of mindless NPCs or people online with my buddies.

Posted:3 months ago

#1

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
Am I the only one who thought Splatoon was a really welll made De Blob mod with "guns" that shoot paint? I guess so. Oh, I'll ABSOLUTELY buy it and play it, but I won't be able to shake the feeling that the color swapping thing has been done in a more family friendly manner than here where it's just a cuter and less violent version of an overpopulated genre.

But I tend to over think things at times...

Posted:3 months ago

#2

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

359 215 0.6
Says the man who makes games targeted at eight year olds, and those who were on e eight :)

Variety is certainly good, and he's right that too many games are being made in these molds. But I have to point out, Nintendo has been making the same games over and over since the N64, he knows as well as the rest of us what pays the bills. Innovation leads to Xbox One freak outs. They want the same, but different, fresh and new!

Minecraft succeeded because Notch made the LEGO game everyone asked for for years. Same thing, but fresh, new, different!
Red Dead Redemption made the cowboy game everyone had always wanted with a great story. It made a 60s western, but made it a game so fresh, new different!

The next winner is the person that takes something else. Personally if I were Chris Roberts, us be porting Star Citizen to PS4/X1 as fast as my oittle legs can carry me. The kids will get bored of No Mans Sky and want something more. A genre most of them have never played. Fresh, new, different

Posted:3 months ago

#3

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

822 654 0.8
Although he is right in this case, I can't help but find this statement from Mr. Miyamoto a bit odd, considering from the head of a company that has been using the same characters and franchises for more than twenty years and had so much problem and delays to adapt to new markets and online gaming in general.

Still my respect to him and I think Nintendo did really good in E3, but the lack of 3rd party support in the WiiU is still a ghost roaming their house at nigh. It should be like a big warning sign that reads "you can no longer tell people what they have to play; they have a million alternatives now"

Posted:3 months ago

#4

Paul Jace Merchandiser

942 1,428 1.5
Popular Comment
"In the world of comic books and movies, there are people who are challenging themselves to be even more creative than before in creating their content
The reason why comics, novels, movies and television can be more creative with their content is because they can cover a wide variety of mature/adult themes and topics( such as homosexuality, rape, sex, etc) with not much more than a small rant from a few displeased readers/viewers. But when video games try to tackle the same topics it makes the 5, 6, and 10 o'clock news, churches protest, parents groups protest, "experts" appear on news shows to tell the world how the games in question are going to drive us all to hell and worst of all, your game may not even be able to be released because platform holders shy away from these kind of games to avoid all the aforementioned controversy.

So in a sense, video game makers(those who make interactive digital content, in Miyamoto's words) are severly limited in what they can and can't cover with their creations. That doesn't mean that the next classic definitive revolutionary game needs to feature boobies and hot sex but that wouldn't even be an issue if it were another medium.

Now I realize that Miyamoto isn't specifically talking about games with adult themes but I think it's relevant(content wise) to the kind of games people make. And if those games aren't likely to find a place to launch on, they aren't likely to get made. Which leaves us back to pretty much the only real mature games that video games get a free pass to make: games were you shoot people in the face. And sadly the free pass for those even runs out everytime some kid decides to go shoot up his school or some other establishment.

The day that video games get treated like an equal artform to comics. novels, movies and television is the day when we'll hopefully not have to even have this discussion about gaming being creativly immature. As it stands now gaming most certainly covers a diverse range of topics but it could(and should) be even more diverse.

Posted:3 months ago

#5

Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University

436 496 1.1
Popular Comment
Says the man who makes games targeted at eight year olds, and those who were on e eight :)
Although he is right in this case, I can't help but find this statement from Mr. Miyamoto a bit odd, considering from the head of a company that has been using the same characters and franchises for more than twenty years and had so much problem and delays to adapt to new markets and online gaming in general.
Do we live in a world where Miyamoto didn't spear head the design of Wii and DS, or franchises like Wii Sports, Wii Fit and Brain Training, expanding the gaming audience in a way that consoles have never achieved before or since? Audience expansion is now almost entirely taking place through smartphones and tablets, which have done more than anyone (Miyamoto himself included) to build on Nintendo's work there. I'd also argue that anyone saying Nintendo creates the same games over and over, or only games that target children, is guilty of gross simplification. Would it be great if we saw more EAD developed new franchises? Yes. Would it be grand if stuff like Eternal Darkness, Bayonetta 2 etc were more common? Sure. Does this mean Nintendo only ever release the same games and ideas, and only ever release titles that appeal to children? No.

And I think Miyamoto's right about the gaming industry still being creatively immature. It's been what, thirty, forty years for the medium to develop? Literature has had thousands of years, cinema and comic books decades more time than gaming, and I'd argue gaming has matured at a faster rate than any of those mediums. Yet there's still an underlying tension and problem within the console industry when it comes to trying new things that bring in new audiences. Consider the focus of big budget console development (outside of Nintendo) which still overwhelmingly aims to target the 18 to 30 year old white male demographic. The recent and ongoing arguments about the lack of representation in videogames. The tension that comes when systems like Wii are a huge success on the back of titles that don't hit the traditional market. I can't be the only person that remembers the vitriol and condescension Nintendo received for pursuing their new direction. We don't necessarily have an industry that's entirely afraid of new ideas, but I do think the console industry has developed into a tunnel vision model that doesn't want to bring its head out the sand and bring in new consumers. Nintendo are guilty of failings there, too, for abandoning the simplicity and broad appeal of Wii/DS in favour of half-chasing industry norms and returning to their niche.

Is it fair to say:
"This year, the majority of what the other developers exhibited was bloody shooter software that was mainly set in violent surroundings or, in a different sense, realistic and cool worlds. Because so many software developers are competing in that category, it seemed like most of the titles at the show were of that kind."
Maybe, but with any generalisation there are issues. Miyamoto's right that a lot of bigger developers choose to compete in that category, because that's where a lot of money is made in the console industry. He's not the only person that made that observation about E3, and that observation is becoming increasingly common every year. I'd love to know what Miyamoto thought about the indie titles on display at E3. Surely he's someone who can appreciate the work going on there, especially considering he wants to work on smaller projects himself.

Posted:3 months ago

#6

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,138 1,178 1.0
The only way Nintendo can help families feel really safe is by abandoning this toy crap and start selling pump-action surface to surface rocket launchers to upstanding citizens defending their basic rights, one tactical nuclear strike at a time. A Wiimote is not a blunt object. A Wii U GamePad is not a bulletproof piece of metal you slip under your shirt. Your kids need to be safe, they need the proper tools to enforce the castle doctrine in the cyber-bunker age.

They are not just fit, they are WiiFit, their brains are trained and now they are ready for the next step in Nintendo family safety products.

Posted:3 months ago

#7

Jay Bedeau Producer, RIE STUDIOS LTD

6 8 1.3
"Immature" no. "Action-centric" yes. I don't think you can look at themes and say the content is "immature". Action is popular and some things will be more popular than others. As Alfonso Sexto commented, this is a curious comment, possibly disingenuous marketing.

Posted:3 months ago

#8

Axel Cushing Writer / Blogger

104 130 1.3
@Greg
Splatoon was a blast to play. It's one I'd have no problem recommending.

@Jay
I do kind of see his point. Look at some of the recent titles shown at E3. Rainbow Six: Siege, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Battlefield: Hardline, Homefront: Rebellion, all of them are going for this grim and "edgy realism" feel. There's a visceral sort of kick to those games, but there's a marked lack of joy in them. Dead Island 2, bloody as hell, but there's a warped humor to it which sets it apart. I think he's speaking about this perceived need to have that "military-themed shooter" box on the inventory sheet checked as if the world is going to fall apart if such a game is not made. You can almost see the list of elements for any of these shooters: four classes, progressions to unlock weapons, massive focus on visual detail and realism, contrived plots, shallowly written charcters (though famous celebrities doing voice work are free to chew scenes as necessary). Nintendo's shooter is light-hearted, but no less intense than a Call of Duty multiplayer match. As much as I'd love an official sequel to Eternal Darkness to hit the WiiU, I'm happy to let Nintendo experiment and look for the fun rather than the "realistic."

Posted:3 months ago

#9

Shane Sweeney Academic

398 413 1.0
I know people don't like comparing film to video games. But I think their is a lot we can learn. Originally film were optioned and funded by giant moguls who were passionate film lovers like Walt Disney and the original board at MGM. These powerful men produced a certain type of film the public enjoyed, the Sound of Music, the Wizard of Oz and fans refer to these days as the golden age of Hollywood etc. The moguls were passionate and dedicated.

After the moguls all passed away or moved on the boards just became regular Corporations with less vision and cohesiveness. In the face of disruptive technology like television these companies kept trying to attract audiences with larger and larger spectacles called Epics like Ben Hur and Lawrence of Arabia. The films became less interesting, more familiar and many didn't profit. However a generation of literate film buffs fresh out of film school changed the industry by making innovative films like Easy Rider, Star Wars, Jaws, Superman etc. This is usually called New Wave Cinema or New Hollywood.

I think the parallels are very clear. The old moguls have moved on, the AAA are producing larger spectacles as a new video game literate generation start to produce the games industry equivalents of Jaws, Easy Rider and Star Wars. It's just funny to see it through Miyamoto's eyes, as hes one of the few original media moguls left operating in the same capacity. He would be very unhappy with Square, Capcom, Konami and many of the contemporary companies he started his career with let alone the western companies.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 8th July 2014 8:27am

Posted:3 months ago

#10

Jay Bedeau Producer, RIE STUDIOS LTD

6 8 1.3
I think this is because these games get the largest marketing budgets. The reason for this is that they make lots of money. The reason for that is because they're popular. So if the people are buying these games, there is demand for these games. If we truly look at gaming holistically, we're only talking about a handful of titles amidst an entire sea of social games, mobile games, indie games, VR games, ad infitum.

To label the lineup at E3 as immature artistically is perhaps a matter of difference in taste with the masses. However to speak on the industry, I dare say that is an uninformed perspective. Notably considering the age of Indie, VR and drop-in drop out online and persistent worlds. I hope that he is not favoring the maturity of Nintendo's offerings in this sense.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jay Bedeau on 9th July 2014 3:42pm

Posted:3 months ago

#11

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