Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 21, 2015

Email: 1997 Gunpei Yokoi interview: “[Modern] games just aren’t games for me”

Master Malstrom,

I recently found this interview with Gunpei Yokoi only a short while before his death. You might want to take a look because–in a nutshell–he shares what many lapsed gamers feel about modern gaming, 18 years after he passed away…and 8 years before you started saying the same things.

An excerpt:

There’s a huge variety of console games out now, but to me, the majority of them aren’t actually “games”. The word “game” means something competitive, where you can win or you can lose. When I look at recent games, I see that quality has been declining, and what I’m seeing more and more of are games that want to give you the experience of a short story or a movie.

This is most obvious with role-playing games, where the “game” portion isn’t the main focus, and I get the feeling that the developers really just want you to experience the story they’ve written. So when you ask what I think of games today, well, it’s a very difficult question for me. I end up having to say that games today just aren’t games to me.”


Yokoi is right. The entire interview should be read. One thing that makes me sad is that with Iwata’s passing, there really are not many non-Miyamoto Nintendo ‘game gods’ left.

But let us go further than Yokoi and ask the next question. WHY do developers want us to experience their ‘story’? I thought they became game developers to make games, not stories. And why is ‘competition’, where you can lose, being taken out of games?

I’m more impressed with Yokoi’s commentary about the use of imagination in games. He is saying it s fine for TVs to be HD and all since they are informational devices. But games are not informational devices. We have these HD consoles that have all this graphical power, but the game everyone is playing is Minecraft… a game of blocks.




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