Shigeru Miyamoto Tribute
May 20, 1997
Note: This is a manuscript I wrote for my college speech class. We were supposed to pick someone to write a tribute to and had to write out the tribute rather than just write an outline or whatnot. It is now presented in its original, unedited form.
How many of you have ever heard of Shigeru Miyamoto (She-jeh-roo Mee-ya-moh-toe)? Now how many of you have heard of the Super Mario Bros.? Shigeru Miyamoto, the Steven Spielberg of the video game industry, is the brainchild behind Mario and numerous other hits such as Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda. Although he is not a public figure in the U.S., his crowning achievement, Super Mario, is recognized by more kids than Mickey Mouse. And with over one billion copies of the various Mario games sold worldwide, Shigeru Miyamoto is clearly the world's finest video game designer.
Mr. Miyamoto is a humbling man who went to an art college in the early 1970s. It took him five years to graduate because he only attended class half the time. Instead of studying, he spent his time sketching, listening to music, and dreaming. His creativity, however, landed him a job with Nintendo in 1980.
His first video game ever, Donkey Kong, which was released in 1981, was actually derived from Beauty and the Beast. In fact, many of Miyamoto's ideas come from things he enjoys. For example, the infamous "warp zones" in Mario come from Star Trek, and the empowering mushrooms, which turn Mario into Super Mario, come from Alice in Wonderland.
Miyamoto's other extremely popular game, The Legend of Zelda, is based on his youth. When he was a child, he would often explore his surroundings without a map, trying to find his way, stumbling upon amazing things as he went along. And much to his colleagues' dismay, he still likes to walk alone at night in American cities, exploring back streets and hidden places. His love for exploration has only become more evident in his most recent titles.
There's only one word that can be used to describe Mr. Miyamoto's work: genius. Gamers constantly ask themselves, "Why are Miyamoto's games so damn good?" He is constantly imitated but never equaled; his strive for perfection is relentless. And unlike other game designers who are one-hit wonders (like the creator of Tetris, who never equaled his own creation), Mr. Miyamoto continues to best his own creations every single time.
It was once said that, "Without Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo would be nothing. With Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo is everything." As a company, Nintendo literally relies on this man to produce their next multi-million selling hit—and he continues to come through again and again. The number one selling video game of all-time, Super Mario Bros. 3, which was released in 1990, grossed more than $500 million dollars. That's more money than E.T. made. In fact, the video game industry currently brings in more revenue annually than the motion picture industry.
Like previous Mario games before it, Super Mario 64 recently debuted with the Nintendo 64 last September. This game single-handedly had parents trampling over one another to buy this $200 "toy" for their kids. Nintendo 64 was right up on the Christmas "want lists" with Tickle Me Elmo. Thanks to Miyamoto's Super Mario 64, Nintendo went on to break every sales record in the book.
Now in his forties, it is time Mr. Miyamoto gets the recognition he deserves. Slightly over ten years ago, he revitalized and revolutionized an industry that was teetering on the brink of extinction. In this day and age when "Nintendo" almost became a generic name rather than brand name, when Mario is recognized by more children than Mickey Mouse, when the video game industry brings in nearly $10 billion dollars a year, and when there are over 30 million video game players in America, we must give credit where credit is due and take video games more seriously than a childhood toy. And, simply put, no one can make a better video game than Shigeru Miyamoto.