I wanted to share with you a blogpost written in Destructoid (http://www.destructoid.com/promoted-blog-gunpei-yokoi-remembered-235407.phtml) in memory of Gumpei Yokoi and talks to some extent about his background back in the 60′s when he joined Nintendo up to the NES. I thought it was not only informative (but maybe you already knew all this information about Gumpei Yokoi, hahahaha) but very thoughtful of a man that (together with Hiroshi Yamauchi) did much more for Nintendo and the Game Business than any “game god” would ever dream of. My favorite parts are where it is hinted that perhaps Yokoi had some sort understanding of the “Disruption” concept
“At the core of his philosophy was a dedication to both innovation and simplicity. He saw the implementation of “next generation” technologies as unnecessary to the creative engineer, even as a hindrance, because they required an engineer to “waste time” learning the new tech rather than thinking creatively. Yokoi instead saw an advantage in implementing technologies that were cheap, readily available and understood, and even on the brink of obscurity. These technologies allowed the creative thinker to cut directly to the paramount step of the development process: creation.This notion eventually became ‘Lateral thinking with withered technology.’”
and where he showed he also had business education (very important!)
“While Atari’s Lynx and Sega’s Game Gear sported full color displays and backlit screens, Yokoi maintained his resourceful approach for the Game Boy and stuck with a monochromatic display that was lower cost and easier to produce. In the PR war that ensued, Sega and Atari publicly poked fun at Nintendo for their “low-tech” handheld and ultimately incited some worry among Nintendo execs, who pressured Yokoi on his decisions. Yokoi remained committed to the design, citing energy consumption and pricing as the main reasons the Game Boy would prevail over its competitors. Ultimately, Yokoi’s judgement proved right”
I also liked where it is mentioned that Yokoi was as much an important influence on Donkey Kong, SMB, Zelda, etc, as Miyamoto et al. We owe so much (the D-pad and Game Boy for Christ’s sake!!!) to a man that acted much more humble than many devs today, yet he’s barely remembered unlike Gabe Newell, Cliff B, Peter Molineaux, Hideo Kojima, Eiji Aonuma, etc; I’m sick of Miyamoto too.
I wouldn’t call Gumpei Yokoi a “game god” but I will call him this: Game Pioneer. He crossed the blue ocean, set foot on the new continent, and began blazing a trail, not only to discover new things, but that it would be easier for us to find those things and follow his example. Here’s to you, Gumpei Yokoi.
I don’t understand why Yokoi was fired. Nintendo doesn’t fire anyone. And firing him over the Virtual Boy, if that is the case, doesn’t make much sense since it was Miyamoto’s idea (and Miyamoto still says the Virtual Boy failed because it wasn’t marketed right). If Nintendo is going to fire someone, there are so many better candidates than Yokoi. There is some part of the story we’re missing. Did Yokoi make a pass at Yamauchi’s wife or something? You don’t just throw talent like this away. Yokoi doesn’t seem the type to have a personality problem since he was there for so long. We’re missing something.
“But it is said he wanted to retire at 50.” That makes no sense since he was still working in the industry at other companies after Nintendo. If he resigned on his own because he wanted to ‘retire’, everyone would know this and Nintendo would not hesitate talking about it.
While the Lateral Thinking with Whithered Technology is a disruptive concept, Yokoi wasn’t the only one who thought that way. Many Japanese companies were becoming famous for it. The most famous of these companies was Sony.
Japan wasn’t always a rich country. Many engineers then were trained to do more with less.
The Nintendo of today could never have created the Gameboy. What today’s Nintendo would do is to make a Gameboy and a spatula controller and say that the two are combined to greater value than the ‘technologically impressive’ Lynx or Game Gear. I remember the NES being laughed at by the Game Industry because it was 8-bit when everything was moving onto 16-bit.
Nintendo didn’t care if the Game Industry laughed at them. They didn’t care if they laughed at the NES or Gameboy. Today, Nintendo cares. They don’t like to be laughed at. They make a fantastic success with the Wii and Nintendo is ashamed of the console and feel embarrassed by its customers. It seems like Nintendo is more proud of the Virtual Boy than the Wii at times!