Nintendo’s ‘conductor’ takes us behind the game giant’s inner workings, how it finds talent and the philosophy that sparks its eccentric ideas Keith Stuart and
Keza MacDonald Nintendo is coming out of a rough patch in its 128-year history. After spending most of the 00s riding high on the success and profits of its DS and Wii consoles, the current decade has seen the Japanese company struggle to adapt to the changes that its rivals and smartphones have wrought upon the video game world.

The death of company president Satoru Iwata in 2016, who presided over a creatively and financially brilliant period in Nintendo’s history, left many wondering how the company would find its way again. In March 2017, Nintendo’s fortunes turned around again with the launch of the Switch, a smart portable games console that can also be docked next to a TV and played at home.

It has proven extremely popular, and its flagship games Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2 and Zelda: Breath of the Wild hoovered up awards last year, including three Baftas at this month’s ceremony. One of the minds behind this joyful little machine is Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s GM of development, who started at the company as an artist in 1989 and is now in charge of Switch.

He has been called Nintendo’s conductor. Takahashi paints innovation as a side-product of Nintendo’s working culture – something about which the company has always been notoriously secretive.

In the last few years it has started to open up just a little; its regular Nintendo Direct broadcasts show the faces behind games such as Mario, Zelda, Animal Crossing and Splatoon. In the company’s creative process, explains Takahashi, the ideas come first. Read more from…

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