Director’s Commentary of the Week: Nintendo Wii

Here’s a stunning collection of Director’s Commentaries from the creators of the Nintendo Wii gaming system.  The commentaries are transcripts of a discussion and are not in video form.  Fortunately, they’re broken into several chapters, so it’s easy to find something you might be interested in hearing.  There’s an enormous amount of material here, so I haven’t been able to digest it all.  But here are some gems:

"This may sound paradoxical, but if we had followed the existing
Roadmaps we would have aimed to make it “faster and flashier.” In other
words, we would have tried to improve the speed at which it displays
stunning graphics. But we could not help but ask ourselves, “How big an
impact would that direction really have on our customers?” During
development, we came to realise the sheer inefficiency of this path
when we compared the hardships and costs of development against any new
experiences that might be had by our customers." – Genyo Takeda

"I’ve said this countless times already, but when developing Wii, I
thought constantly about what we could do to stop games being regarded
with hostility in the family. So I came up with a suggestion, perhaps a
rather outlandish one! (laughs) What I thought was that if a parent
said that their child was only allowed to play games for one hour a
day, how about making it so the console actually turns itself off after
an hour? I realize the head of a games company shouldn’t think things
like that!" – Satoru Iwata

"If only one team is developing something, they’ll only ever pay
attention to the same old issues, sometimes discussing them all day
amongst themselves to find a solution. But this time, thanks to the
System Function team, I was able to go and talk with Kawamoto-san or
have a look at Kuroume-san’s designs. Both physically and mentally, I
found this to be a less stressing, more laid-back way to do things.’ – Tomoake Kuroume

I hope the Wii does well.  It’s rare to see a series of closely-spaced market introductions (XBox, Playstation 3, Wii), where one is so dramatically different in terms of the innovation bias of the originating firm.  Where Sony and Microsoft seem to lead with technology, then business, and then think about the user experience, Nintendo is obviously leading with people and desirability, feeling that the other two factors will follow naturally if there’s market lust for the Wii.  Reading about the care and thought put into the interpersonal communication schemes which the Wii enables reminds me of that other great human-centric business-technology system, the iPod + iTunes + iMac.  Perhaps the catchphrase of 2007 won’t be "How can we be the iPod of our cateogry?", but "How can we be like the Wii?"

Thanks to Anthony Pigliacampo from Freddy & Ma and Gel-Bot for telling me about this treasure trove.