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Miyamoto: "I can't tell if I'm a good boss or not"

Nintendo talisman rejects 70% of staff suggestions.

Shigeru Miyamoto rejects around 70 per cent of all game suggestions brought to him by his staff.

The revelation comes from a predictably insightful new Iwata Asks session between Miyamoto, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata and famed Japanese copywriter Shigesato Itoi in which they discuss the creative process.

"I don't know if it comes from not having a boss, but I can't tell if I'm a good boss or not," questioned Miyamoto.

"For example, staff members who have worked with me for a long time will often come up to me and say, 'I thought of something,' but about 70 per cent of the time, I say, 'That won't work.'

"I know it isn't nice, but I know if that idea was mine I'd decline it too, I have to say it anyway. Sometimes, I think if I don't stop that, I won't be able to help anyone grow.

"Well, part of that can't be helped," replied Itoi.

"I know, but when I think about it later, I didn't need to be so harsh for about 20 per cent of that 70 per cent," replied Miyamoto.

Elsewhere in the interview, Miyamoto discussed how he frequently stops projects in their tracks if he thinks they're not going anywhere.

"I'll also stop something when there's no consensus on how to go about making it," he explained.

"People may be excited about it and think it sounds interesting, but you need to ask, 'How are you planning to make that? Where are you going to start?'

"They don't need to have a flawless insight into how it's going to work, but they do need to have some sort of idea about it. When you've got those plans without any idea of how it will turn out, that's always when people say things like, 'But doesn't it sound fun? It's so full of dreams.'

"That's when things get dangerous, when people start talking right away about dreams or how much fun it will be.

Itoi then chimed in, insisting he'd place a "moratorium of dreams" at his company.

"I have a moratorium on dreams, too," responded Miyamoto. "And when it comes to something being fun, you need to know what makes it fun. You can't just say, 'It's fun.'"

Miyamoto did add that occasionally he gets it wrong and ideas that he originally nipped in the bud do eventually make it through to fruition.

"You know how in Super Mario 64 you can grab Bowser and spin him around by his tail? I actually stopped that," he revealed.

"I didn't tell them it was impossible, but I said, 'Don't explore that direction anymore.' I just felt like it was pretty risky. Then something happened to get the program working, and I decided that since there was now a light at the end of the tunnel, we should go with it as one of the main features."

As reported yesterday, Miyamoto disapproved of staff suggestions to add vehicle customisation options to Mario Kart 7, but eventually relented on the condition that the core gameplay was as polished as possible.

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Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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