Eiji Aonuma, Manager Of Legend Of Zelda, Hopes To Surpass Miyamoto

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The steward of 'Zelda'
The steward of 'Zelda' Nintendo

Japanese gaming site Denfami-Nico-Gamer posted a lengthy interview with the steward of the Legend of Zelda Series, Eiji Aonuma. The interview was conducted by Square-Enix’s Jin Fujisawa, who directed Dragon Quest X among other things. Aonuma is very open about his career and aspirations, perhaps because the interviewer is a colleague rather than a member of the press.

You can check out the full interview, but I pulled some of the quotes from Aonuma-San that stood out to me most. On the development of Breath of the Wild, Aonuma said:

“So, our first priority with this production was to make sure that all the members of the development department would play the game. In the period of four years, I think everybody convened and played the game at least 10 times.

“Let’s see. Programmers, designers, sound effects team……I guess at the end, there were 300 people playing the game.”

The phrasing makes it seem like this is a rare thing for large games, in which case it makes a lot of sense. I could imagine on a team of 300 designers that people could start to get tunnel vision into their own role. Playing the game together seems like a great way to ensure your team doesn’t lose the forest for the trees.

Aonuma also had some things to say about Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto:

“I think that Mr. Miyamoto is a great man, but someday I want to surpass him.

“Well, because I’m working with him in the same building. I heard there are people overseas who worship Mr. Miyamoto like God, but I’m not like that. And I think I’ll exceed him some day. That hasn’t happened yet, though. But I don’t think he is a divine being. He is somebody you can catch up with. That’s why we end up trying.”

This feels like a particularly bold statement, but honestly it is probably a necessary attitude to make a game as stunning as Breath of the Wild . You would need to believe in your own vision enough to break a thirty year formula and succeed. It highlights the danger of overly revering your heroes in the industry, a practice that could limit your imagination and the scope of your own work.

The entire interview is worth reading but before I go I’ll leave you with one final amazing quote:

“Actually, I never played a game when I was young. When I landed a job in Nintendo, I asked my girlfriend at that time, “What is a TV game?” And she lent me Dragon Quest 1.”

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