Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 12, 2017

Secret to Miyamoto is his stamina?

Let us take a look at how game development goes on inside Nintendo.

When Nintendo hires new people, they only ‘hire the best of the best’ because Nintendo is at a position where it can do that. Miyamoto commented (paraphrasing), “Under this filter, I never would have been hired at Nintendo.”

So what makes Miyamoto Miyamoto? The answer is in the text.

In those days, Miyamoto would come to us at 11 PM, after he finished all of his board-member work, and say, “It’s Mario time.” At that point, we’d start a planning meeting that would run until 2 AM. At that point, Miyamoto would go home, leaving us with the words, “You should return home soon, for your health.” Over the next two or three hours, we’d write the game design documents and summarize the instructions for our artists and programmers.

It was the craziest crunch time that I’ve ever experienced in my development career. But if the God of Games was working so much, could we give up? Miyamoto had incredible stamina.


The last paragraph sums it up.

People have a high school mentality of ‘smart’. In high school, ‘smart’ means work comes easy to you, and you get done with homework fast meaning you get to do more of ‘nothing’. ‘Stupid’ in high school means spending tons of time at homework and classwork and not being able to have more time for ‘nothing’.

Hence, those who live life with the high school mentality think ‘winning’ is having as much time for ‘nothing’ in their lives.

In the real world, 40 hours is not enough. It is what you do in 40+ hours that matter. For example, someone working a shit job and going to school on the side is doing something that gets that person ahead. But say you get your career going. Doing more like starting a small business on the side or increasing your skills somewhere else gets you ahead.

Miyamoto’s secret is plain simple hard work. Hard work = stamina. Farmers do not work hard because they sweat, they work hard because they have stamina to get up at crack of dawn and be consistent with their productivity until night day after day.

“He’s still here!?” gasps the Nintendo developers when they realize Miyamoto is still in the building working at 2 AM.

Note how Miyamoto says it is a good idea for them to go home FOR THEIR HEALTH. Taking care of your health keeps you productive. Miyamoto does not say it is good idea for them to go home and DO NOTHING. The developer writing that gamasutra piece says, “It was the toughest crunch time of my career.” This is leverage Nintendo applies. If there was a company as equal to Nintendo, he would write, “Their crunch time is as tough as Nintendo!” But he does not write that.

I think laziness, not ‘lack of genius’, is the reason for most bad games. Look, today, most games are made out of a software kit. They don’t even have to program their own engines anymore. And before people start crying at me, remember that this is an inside sit-down job. This is not climbing on ladders, outside, dealing with high voltage electrical lines. This is not driving a truck hundreds of miles. It is a cush job physically.

The best classics had ‘terrible terrible crunch time’. I remember with Starcraft 1’s crunch time that the developers were falling apart, totally beat.

Miyamoto’s secret isn’t that he is the SMARTEST game developer. His secret may be that he HAS MORE STAMINA than his competitors.

Consider this a life lesson.



%d bloggers like this: