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e-Briefing | Celebrity Setup

The King of Donkey Kong

Nintendo's star video game designer prefers to stay out of the game of mobile access.

July 12, 2001

In the world of video games, Shigeru Miyamoto is a god. The impish Japanese man with an infectious laugh created several of the most popular and trend-setting titles in video-game history, including "Donkey Kong" (1981), "Super Mario Bros." (1985) and "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" (1998).

His games were key to Nintendo becoming a leading producer of video games, making for a lively competition with archrival Sony. The original "Mario" game and its sequels alone have sold more than 140 million units.

Miyamoto, 48, who lives in Kyoto, is a director of the company and oversees the creation of products for Nintendo hardware, including the new Gamecube and Game Boy Advance. Miyamoto was interviewed while on a visit to Los Angeles. Bill Trimmen translated.

DESKTOP: I was originally an artist. Because of that and the popularity of Apple in Japan, I used Macintosh until about four or five years ago. At that point we were using both Macintosh and Windows at work, but then we stopped using Macs. Now I use Windows both at work and home.

Q. What brand of computer do you have at home?

Compaq Presario.

LAPTOP: I have a little laptop. [He starts to pull it out of his briefcase and then breaks into a laugh. It's a Sony Vaio.] I have to carry it around for work, but I hope I am not giving Sony any P.R.

I mostly use it for e-mail and for making changes in presentations when traveling.

Q. Can you do game development on a computer that small?

For our games we use a program called Inspiration quite a bit. It would definitely fit on the laptop, but I don't have it installed. I want the laptop to start up as quickly as possible.

HAND-HELD: I have a Sharp that I mostly use to write memos and to keep track of addresses. It's very useful. [He demonstrates writing in kanji Japanese script on the screen.] This is actually an old unit--I bought a new Palm, but I don't use it much. The trouble is that my schedule is on [Now Software's] Now Up-to-Date software that is not compatible with the Palm.

BOOKMARKS: I guess the things I look at the most are the prices on PC cards and things. I also like to look at NASA's home page even though it is slow. And I look for pages on places I want to visit.

I also like to go find pictures and maps of the Seattle area. I look on them for NOA [Nintendo of America headquarters in Seattle], but it's not always easy to find. It is so much easier to find Microsoft.

Q. What about game sites?

Actually, I don't go to them much. I just see myself as creating my own games, so it doesn't matter what games other people are working on.

CELL PHONE: I don't much like small computer devices. In Japan, about 80% of the people carry cell phones, but I still don't have one. They are convenient, but at the same time they are inconvenient. You lose your freedom.

Q. Do you have a beeper?

No.

Q. If you don't have a cell phone or a beeper, how do they find you?

That's the idea.

In Japan, car navigation systems with GPS are also very popular and a lot of people have them, but not me. I just think it's kind of weird that people need to know, in the middle of all the millions of people around them, their exact position. It's kind of strange.

There are still people in the world who do not have food. If we all have to go so far as to know exactly what our position is, what kind of a world is that?

FAVORITE TECH TOYS: I can't think of any.

Q. Do you have game machines, besides those made by Nintendo, at home?

I don't play games much at home except sometimes with my kids. I have a Dreamcast [made by Sega Corp.] but no Sony. My kids don't ask me to buy Sony for them.

Q. How old are your kids and what games do they play?

I have a 16-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. We used to play "Zelda" quite a bit, but our latest game is "Animal Forest," which was just released in Japan.

--As told to DAVID COLKER

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