Super Useful Advice

09May07

I recently read an interview of Shigeru Miyamoto, the director/designer of Super Mario Bros., Zelda, and many other Nintendo games. The thing that struck me about it was its similarlity to interviews I have read of mathematicians/computer scientists… here is the snippet.

NP: What’s your favorite part of the creative process?
SM: Well it’s always fun to come up with an idea and have that moment where you’re thinking “Oh that’s going to be great! People are going to love this.” Or “Wow, this is really unique. Nobody is doing anything like this.” But obviously thinking up ideas isn’t exactly a fun process. [Laughs] So really for me, the most exciting time is when we have brought all these ideas together and are in the process of turning that into an actual game. It’s that period of where, on a daily basis as you’re finalizing the product, you see it getting better and your ideas coming to fruition. That’s really the most exciting part for me.

NP: When you’re stumped by a particularly difficult problem, what’s your process for working on it?
SM: Oh, that’s a good question. [Laughs] I would have to say that in a situation like that, what I generally tend to do is sit back quietly and assess what the central problem is. Maybe it sounds like a management-seminar-type answer, but I think you really have to understand the nature of the problem before you can get over it. You know, sometimes people mistake me for being a somewhat negative person, but that’s because once I assess the problem, what I do is I go and I find where the problems within that problem lie. If we’re faced with a challenge that we can’t overcome, then I look at it and I say, “Alright, where are the things in this challenge that we’re trying to accomplish that are impossible? What elements of this problem that’s facing us are caused by things we’re doing wrong?” And so what I try to do then is cut off those negative aspects that are wrapped up in the problem and find a way to take that and lead us to an answer.

So change “game” to “paper” and it sounds like something that any famous mathematician might say in an interview. The “NP” stands for Nintendo Power by the way – I got a free trial membership by purchasing a certain number of GBA games.

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