Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mr Iwata's insights on game developement.

September 05 2007

Today I read an article which posts the conversation of Mr. Iwata of Nintendo Wii during one of his visits to the office. He talks about the reasons behind creation of world famous games. The little chat is segmented into eleven sections, three of which was posted online, and the rest are expected soon.

You can read the conversation here, before reading my blog, because I am not going to talk about what he says during that supper time. Well actually I am going to write about that only, but from a different perspective. His little talk is pretty clear by itself. But the analysis of Mr. Itoi's and Mr. Iwata's actions and the reasons behind them are discussed here.

Disclaimer: This is my first blog on net. So if it has any information that is not intended to be published online, then I ask for forgiveness of my ignorance. (i hope to laugh at this line when I come back after few years of experience in blogging.)

With all due respect to Mr. Iwata, I start my first blog.

In the first section, Mr. Iwata talks about Mr. Miyamoto's definition of "ideas". It is something which solved multiple issues at once. The former goes on an elaborate discussion explaining what the definition means. During the conversation, Mr. Shigesato Itoi, explains the concept to his staff, with a simple yet effective example. This showcases the great dedication Mr. Itoi has, in keeping his staff inline with the concept, to make it interesting to the listeners, and to grab their undivided attention. He wishes his staff members to learn from Mr. Iwata's words, and as a manager, is concerned about his team's interests too. This is an industrial management lesson to be learnt from Mr. Itoi, for those who aspire to become great managers themselves.

In the next section, Mr. Iwata talks about viewing things over someone else's shoulder, which is known to me as "third person's point of view", which I heard for the first time from my Mother's brother-in-law Mr. Swaminathan, when I was in my childhood days. I call him periappa (note: I am from Tamil Nadu, India). I remember him sitting on our living room floor, and explaining the concept to me. Ever since I have tried to master that quality, and even after nearly 8 years, I am still on the process. I guess some things take longer time than you expect.

Anyways coming back to Mr. Iwata's insight, as he was clarifying the notion, he has said that during early times, when he was a game programmer, his games were less popular than that of Mr. Miyamoto's games, and he proceeded to find out the reason behind his "low-selling-games" and to make his games as popular as Mr. Miyamoto's. The important thing to notice here is Mr. Iwata's attitude about his failures. It is remarkable that instead of going down the drains, thinking " ya My Miyamoto's games are popular, he is a great person, I can't think like him, I can not reach his level, " and other similar negative thoughts, he actually was eager to fill the gap, and to make his games as successful as Mr. Miyamoto's. This kind of thinking reminds me of Steve Pavlina's blog the abundance mindset

In this blog, Pavlina has dealt with the mindset of abundance. Instead of seeing someone spending $10k on a hotel as an "outrageous act", if a person starts to see that, as a possibility of them rising to that level of spending, then he would move up from his position. Similar kind of mindset can be seen with Mr. Iwata's action of reasoning out his failure, and moving towards success. He started analyzing Mr. Miyamoto's reasons behind success, and succeeded in his attempt. The trigger for such action is his frustration, frustration that his game did not sell out as expected.

In the same section, Mr. Iwata had talked about Mr. Miyamoto's strategy of letting a novice user play his game and watching his actions and reactions from the back. This aspect is highly important for a product company, whose final aim is to make the product popular among the users. No use in creating a product for the developer's satisfaction right? It is the end users who are going to use the product in the end. This concept is the core one in the User Interface Design class, which I took during spring semester. The one thing to keep in mind throughout the software cycle of development is "users, users, users". Mr. Itoi has expressed that Mr. Miyamoto was making use of what he studied in college in developing great games.

It is not the subject matter that Mr. Miyamoto was implementing, for he did industrial design degree in his college, but the basic concept of observation, users' point of view, and picking the correct answers from the user's response. Many of us, including me are under the notion that what we learnt in college has no relevance to what we do for living. This is true especially for Indians like me who do MS in USA and then get a job here. It is true to some extent, in that we might not use all the technology that we learnt, or we might be using an altogether different platform or technology in the company. But that doesn’t mean that our college education is mere waste or just a portal to enter the US corporate section. Certain technologies that we learn in college might not be used in our career. But the cognitive thinking behind it, the approach, reasoning, and observation that we subconsciously learn at the college goes a long way with our career and personal life. Many of us fail to recognize these gems of education. If we realize these intricate qualities and consciously nourish them, the probability of success is more.

More to come as the talk gets updated.