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GAME MASTER: Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto created some of our greatest videogame heroes

Shigeru Miyamoto
The video-game guru who made it O.K. to play

print article Subscribe email TIMEasia Ask video-game producers which individual has had the most creative impact on this burgeoning art form, and the name you will hear over and over again is Shigeru Miyamoto. Chief game designer for Nintendo, Miyamoto has been called the Walt Disney of electronic gaming. Nintendo grew to become one of the major players in the gaming industry primarily because of a multitude of designs born in the mind of Miyamoto-san. Starting with his first hit, Donkey Kong, and continuing through his megafranchises Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda, Miyamoto, 53, has repeatedly proved himself a master of his craft. Along the way, he has not only created some of our most beloved entertainment experiences, he has also built a modern mythology that captures the joy and wonder of exploring these playful micro-worlds.

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Miyamoto's body of work is remarkable because he has always remained focused on what actually matters in a game: the player's experience. Other designers may obsess about testing the limits of the hardware; Miyamoto specializes in testing the limits of imagination. His insistence upon simplicity and his appeal to our inner child recognize that play is an important part of being human. It's how we learn. By understanding the nature of play—the activities that we all enjoyed as children but are later taught to eschew as adults—Miyamoto is able to create engrossing games that rekindle very old and yet very satisfying learning experiences in a fresh way.

As the industry grows and matures, it is challenging to remain innovative while attracting new players to the fold. Miyamoto's response: change the rules. Nintendo's groundbreaking new game machines—the handheld, dual-screen Nintendo DS and the soon-to-be-released Nintendo Wii, which features a motion-sensing remote control—offer unconventional game play without being complex and intimidating. It's a brilliant approach. Miyamoto remains the industry's pied piper, drawing yet another generation into his world for a little fun.

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