Closer to 40 years after his conception, Super Mario is unarguably the Mickey Mouse of video games, a beloved and strangely adorable character who is recognized the world over. As such, there are those who compare his creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, to Walt Disney. In fact, according to Miyamoto, people have been trying to make that comparison since the ’80s. In his interview with The New Yorker, Miyamoto discussed his legacy, comparisons to Walt Disney, and his belief that the younger staff at Nintendo are now capable of maintaining the company’s core principles.
On the subject of Disney, Miyamoto shared the following:
Soon after Super Mario became famous, someone told me that I had reached the status of Walt Disney. I remember pointing out that, at the time, Mickey Mouse was more than fifty years old, while Mario had only been around for two or three years. So there was a lot to catch up on. I do believe that the quality of something hinges on whether or not it’s sought several decades after its creation. Walt Disney didn’t create everything that Disney put out, but the idea that a company could make these long-lasting symbols—that’s something I’ve admired. We’re finally at a point where people who played with Nintendo’s characters as children are playing with those same characters with their children. That longevity is special.
Miyamoto never outright puts himself into the same category as Disney, but reading between the lines, it does sound like he would (rightfully) place himself in that category these days, now that Mario is a true cultural institution.
As for Miyamoto’s legacy with Nintendo, he said that right now the goal is to create “harmony between hardware and software” at Nintendo. And apparently, things are going pretty well toward that end, as Miyamoto added, “It’s taken about ten years, but I feel that the younger generation here is now fully able to uphold that foundational principle.” A Nintendo without Shigeru Miyamoto isn’t something we ever want to contemplate, but it’s comforting that he seems to believe the baton is being successfully passed to the next generation at the company.
But of course, 68-year-old Miyamoto is far from ready to retire, and he wants to continue pursuing his interests, chief of which is developing Super Nintendo World.