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Miyamoto: "People are scared of gaming technology"

Games still have a long way to go to achieve mainstream acceptance, says Nintendo veteran

Veteran Nintendo games designer Shigeru Miyamoto has said that videogame technology is still intimidating to new audiences.

Speaking in an interview with our sister site Eurogamer.net, the creator of Donkey Kong and Super Mario 64 said he feels it's his and Nintendo's responsibility to continue to educate larger audiences of the benefits of gaming.

"The fact is many people are afraid or scared of gaming technology," he said. "Actually it's very convenient, useful technology and as long as you can have some time to get accustomed there's nothing to be afraid of at all.

"So my responsibility here must be to try to let people understand how convenient and useful game technology is and try to remove hurdles so that even your grandpa and grandma are waiting to turn on the power switch of your console easily without hesitation."

Nintendo has already made significant inroads in expanding the audience for videogames, with the Wii motion controller simplifying control and helping the system sell to a wider demographic.

Sony and Microsoft are only now preparing to release similar motion systems for their home consoles, a move that Miyamoto feels validates Nintendo's approach – although the company will continue to keep innovation at the forefront of hardware design.

"We feel it's an honour that some form of entertainment style we created is now going to be taken for granted thanks to the attitude taken by the other companies," offered Miyamoto.

"On the other hand, Nintendo is a company that is always striving to create something unique and unprecedented. And if we can do that, if we can establish to the world that videogames have such huge potential for daily life, the existence of games will be even more highly appreciated by the public."

But gaming still has a long way to go before it is established as a credible entertainment medium for the mass market, said Miyamoto.

"Very frankly speaking, I have to admit videogames still have some way to go in order to reach the level of movies when it comes to social acceptance by the general public. We still have to carry on making a great effort."

The full interview with Miyamoto can be read here.

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Latest comments (4)

Jack Loftus Contributing Editor, Gizmodo9 years ago
He's right, of course. Look at the iPad or touch interfaces and even motion controls. This is the future. Simplicity. Now, many people mistake the move toward simplicity, purposefully or ignorantly, as a move toward stupidity, and thus as a threat to gaming, but that's not the case at all. (see: the response to the Wii's expanded audience, and how having more people gaming is somehow a "bad thing").

What the move to simplicity does is remove the hardware from the player's mind, so that they can focus on the game and be lost in the game play. You see this kind of dynamic in Wii Sports/Sports Resort, or in early previews of the iPad, where the reporter or analyst says the tablet just kind of "melts away," leaving you "touching" the software contained within. I find that pretty exciting. Other see it as a threat, probably because they've drank the Kool-aid that makes them think "casual gamers" is a real word, and not some marketing term.

On a related note, this attitude that Nintendo execs seem to have is, to me, one of the big reasons why the company is so successful now. While Sony execs stupidly say the 3DS will be intimidating to "8- and 9-year-olds" using logic that's based far outside any reality I've experienced in the games industry, for example, you have people like Miyamoto here just opining openly on gaming as a whole, and on its future. Obviously he'd like Nintendo to succeed, but he's certainly not speaking like an exec that's outselling the next two competitors in line, combined.

And then there's this:

"Very frankly speaking, I have to admit videogames still have some way to go in order to reach the level of movies when it comes to social acceptance by the general public. We still have to carry on making a great effort."

It's true. Wii and DS sell amazingly well, but they're not that much more impressive than the PS2's numbers. So, while we are seeing the expanded market materialize, it's still not doing it at the clip Nintendo would like.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jack Loftus on 31st March 2010 3:28pm

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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 9 years ago
I agree with you Jack. Also another thing is video game is still being seen as an addiction when someone said he / she loves it. As compared to people going to the movies or read books all the time - they are healthy social interactions or intellectual pass time. I think what Nintendo did with Wii and DS is they expanded it beyond pure individual gaming and tried to make it more of a social (Wii Sport, Wii Fit, Mario Kart etc.) and even intellectual (Brain Training, Books Collection, Crosswords etc.) experience. At this point to me it seems that Sony and Microsoft are still applying the "I have better technology" approach to motion control but for me at the end of the day it is the content that sells - which I will be interested to see how these two companies are going to realise their visions.
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Tavis Fong9 years ago
I believe that one more generational gap will probably close the 'gaming gap'.

Right now we still have generations among us to whom technology (not just games) is scary, and even some remnants of my own generation who still feel as though games are childish and cast a disapproving look on 'grown ups' who game.

There is definitely some social stigma there still, but I think that is less prevalent in today's youth and so should that trend continue, games will be just as socially accepted as movies as a 'respectable' form of leisure in the not too distant future.
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Rob Stevens Senior Developer/Designer 9 years ago
There is still a lot of residual techno fear in people regarding video games amongst older audiences. There has always been a reticence to any new technology amongst people who assume it is complicated and therefore beyond their ken. For example, programming video recorders, some people persisted for years saying they couldn’t do that.

Evidently the hurdle that Nintendo are addressing head on is just getting “non-gamers” to actually turn on the hardware themselves. It doesn’t matter how good your software is if the hardware never gets turned on. Once the power is on, you can start trying to address the remaining fears of not being able to deal with the game itself.

And for me that is where the last hurdle appears. Many, many potential purchasers are put off by the overwhelming wealth of choice in games. They just don’t know what would appeal to them and after some hesitation they give up and wonder off.

Obviously this is where we move into the realm of marketing, which is where Nintendo scored big by showing people via TV what they should be buying. Not only did Nintendo show people “look we’ve got a very simple piece of hardware”, but also “look at this game that looks interesting and that you know you’re going to be able to play”. I can’t think of anyone else who is doing that. Maybe Sony with the Eye-Pet ads, but they’ve missed out somewhere because it is hard to understand what they are actually selling.

I know this is going to sound a little patronising, but a lot more people would play games if someone would just tell them what they should play, what they would enjoy. I’ve converted many people this way and afterwards it is only a small step to get them branching out and experimenting different choices. This is essentially what Nintendo did with Brain Training combined with the DS and it worked extremely well.
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