Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Game Over

So I've been really struggling in being productive outside of work. I've been spending months searching for some kind of inspiration to get my ass in gear. As a favor for a friend, I'll be doing a little animation sometime this week of a flower growing, so maybe that will spark something.

What I really want to talk about is this great book that hooks me every time I read pick it up.

"Game Over: Press Start To Continue" by David Sheff is an amazing account of Nintendo's rise to power. It's the book that really made me want to work in the game industry, or more specifically, made me want to work for Nintendo. I read this book right before I started my internship at Nintendo Software Technology in 2003, and I was beyond excited to be on the inside of the place that saved the video game industry in North America.

Nintendo's story is truly inspiring to me. Some of the methods they used to become the unquestioned industry leader back in the late '80s might be suspect, but they took an industry that American companies created (and subsequently brought to its knees and left for dead), and against all odds, brought it back from the brink and became one of the most successful and profitable companies in the world.

One really has to question why American companies continue to operate with such inefficiency after Nintendo showed the world how to do it right. They invested heavily in their R & D divisions, planned a long-term strategy, and didn't spend lavishly on things like private jets.

The book chronicles the history of the industry. From Nolan Bushnell's sloppy management of Atari, Shigeru Miyamoto's inspiring career and value to Nintendo, Trip Hawkin's arrogance, the many lawsuits Nintendo fought (and won), and Sega's challenge to Nintendo's throne -- "Game Over" covers it all objectively.

I remember my first day working on Nintendo of America's campus. It was such a thrill for me to walking around the offices where it all started. I would have quit DigiPen had they offered me a permanent position at NST, and I tried like hell after graduating to land a job there. Most of the people I knew at NST are gone however, and it seems that the studio (like Nintendo's other American studios), isn't doing so well on the inside. Most everyone I knew while working there have moved on, citing frustration and poor management. So maybe it worked out for the best that I never got hired there. I have to say though, seeing my name under Miyamoto's in the credits of "1080 Avalanche" and "Mario Vs. Donkey Kong" is still pretty special for me, even if it's just "special thanks."

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