Page 1 — The First Foreign Employee of Nintendo
Page 2 — Working on the N64
Page 3 — Snowboarding in 64 Bits
Page 4 — N64DD, Doshin and Prototypes
Page 5 — Rock n’ Roll Wii and VR
Page 6 — Undersea Adventures on the 3DS and Smash
Page 7 — Bringing Tanks Online and Missed Opportunities
Page 8 — The Future of Vitei
Page 9 — Giles, The Enabler
Page 10 — The Future of Vitei and VR
Page 9 — Giles, The Enabler
Do you have a general philosophy of the type of games you like to make? It seems like a lot of your projects are based on vehicles in one way or another.
At the moment I’m really into VR games. When VR is done right, it’s really good. I remember this whole ‘honeymoon period is over for VR’…but once we are no longer tied to the big pieces or the cords…once that big lump or hurdle is overcome…it’s going to be really big.
That’s actually a good segue into the Backroom. So you started this place about…4 years ago, right? The original aim wasn’t VR either.
Yeah I guess it was 4-5 years ago. The original aim was to make a new prototype every month. If it wasn’t fun then we’d throw it away and start again.
The prototypes weren’t tied to any particular system?
No, they just existed. [They were] VR because I got the DK1.
Before I forget, what’s the meaning behind Vitei’s Front Room and the Backroom logo?
It’s a stamp, it says Vitei in katakana.
You have members from all over the world in the Backroom….
Yeah it’s really diverse.
Are you doing that on purpose…trying to cultivate this international feel?
It’s not, but it tends to happen when you are very choosy with your employees. Choosy as you are trying to find the right people to get along with everyone else, and have some prepared to come to Japan. The fact that they come to Japan means a lot of countries are represented. It worked out really well in the end, as we get a lot of different points of view. The main language in the Backroom is English.
The Frontroom isn’t run like that?
The Frontroom is half Japanese and half foreigners. The main language there is Japanese.
One thing that Vitei has really struggled with is marketing. Is there something you are trying to do now, to get you name more out there?
This is the problem with the Frontroom at least. If Nintendo had it their way, people wouldn’t know the Frontroom existed at all. With the Backroom, we want the opposite…we want everyone to know our games. We need to learn more about marketing and selling games. We know a lot about making games but not really about PR. Self-promotion is an alien thing to me as well.
Because you feel humble?
I guess…and working at Nintendo for so long, you are so secretive about everything…and even when it’s released you need to be secretive about it.
Do you see yourself as the CEO?
I see myself more as an ‘enabler’. I’m not a fan of hierarchies in companies. I think if the CEO is doing a good job, then everyone is happy and they don’t know there is a CEO.
Talking with everyone here, it seems things are quite relaxed.
If you treat people like adults, or how you would like to be treated, they respond a lot better than you telling them what to do all the time. You have to trust people, and get good people.
Having them being able to express their own creativity is also important to you, I’d imagine.
Who doesn’t want to express their own creativity all the time? It just makes sense. The whole point with the Backroom is to create a company where I would want to work. I don’t know why more companies don’t do this. I know a lot of companies have this top down, where things have to go through this ladder…but no one really likes working for those companies.
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