I was talking with a friend once about how we both thought the most limiting thing in game development is how players and devs often start with the idea of an existing genre when building a game idea in their head.
In this recent article, while discussing how he is ceding control to the younger generation of designers within Nintendo, Miyamoto reveals that he feels much the same way, to the extent that he goes out of his way to find designers who are not gamers. Here’s the quote that has been going around Twitter:
“I always look for designers who aren’t super-passionate game fans,” Mr. Miyamoto said. “I make it a point to ensure they’re not just a gamer, but that they have a lot of different interests and skill sets.” Some of the company’s current stars had no experience playing video games when they were hired.
I think back to how many of Miyamoto’s famous ideas that became beloved franchises are traced back to him going outside as a child and exploring, picking up hobbies or zeroing in on basic human instincts like jumping that were relatable, and making games that draw from those experiences. Why don’t we pay more attention to that? Why are so many of the ideas we come up with just our version of the games we have played? How do we start getting away from that, saving comparisons to existing games for the pitch meeting and keeping them away from the idea process?
In 2018, it might be nice to make some resolutions to expand our horizons. Take up a hobby or two outside of games, get some weird experiences that are even more unique than the weirder experiences games feed to us. Why wait for those?
Do you agree with the idea that a broader life experience helps you design better game experiences? Have you ever felt like your knowledge of games actively holds you back from having more unique ideas? What are some ways you think you have broadened your life experience recently, to help others who might not know where to start?