Shigeru Miyamoto–the creator of Mario, Donkey Kong, and other characters and games over his 40-plus years at Nintendo–is 71 years old and has no plans to retire. Speaking to The Guardian, Miyamoto said he is thinking about a succession plan, but he plans to work for some time more.
“More so than retiring, I’m thinking about the day I fall over,” he said with a smile. “In this day and age you have to think about things in a five-year timespan, so I do think about who I can pass things on to, in case something does happen.”
Miyamoto went on to comment on his legacy, saying he is thankful there is “so much energy” around the things he has created. “They’ve been cultivated by others, other people have been raising them, helping them grow, so in that sense I don’t feel too much ownership over them any more,” Miyamoto said.
Miyamoto may one day retire, but he believes his work will be remembered.
“There is a scene in Iron Man where the president goes to his own company and the guard man doesn’t let him in, and he points at the portrait and says: ‘That’s me!'” he said. “But I really hope that the teams I work with, at least, remember me as the creator of these things!”
In 2011, Miyamoto told Wired that he was planning a soft retirement in that he would step down from his current duties and shift to a different role within Nintendo. This sparked lots of buzz and discussion, and triggered some level of panic about Nintendo’s share price in some circles. This in turn prompted Nintendo to issue a statement denying that Miyamoto was retiring in the traditional sense.
In 2013, Miyamoto told GameSpot that it would be “strange” to not think about retirement, given his age. Back then, Miyamoto and Nintendo management were internally planning for the day when Miyamoto no longer works at the company. “What I’m doing is pretending like I’m not working on half the projects that I would normally be working on to try to get the younger staff to be more involved,” he said at the time.
Over the past decade, Miyamoto has spent more time working on non-gaming projects at Nintendo, including The Super Mario Bros. Movie and the Super Nintendo World theme parks. He told The Guardian that he no longer thinks of himself as a game designer but instead as the person who helps Nintendo find “unique opportunities” to leverage Nintendo’s brand and characters.
Miyamoto went on to say that he’s spending time lately learning about the Hollywood process and how films are made. Right now, Miyamoto said he’s reading “a lot of scripts… to see how we can create uniquely Nintendo films.”
Miyamoto’s title at Nintendo these days is Representative Director and Fellow. He no longer directs Mario or Zelda games but is involved in some capacity as others take on the more day-to-day responsibilities.
2023’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie made more than $1.3 billion and finished the year as the No. 2 movie worldwide, only behind Barbie. Miyamoto is producing the upcoming live-action Zelda movie with Marvel boss Avi Arad and Sony Pictures.
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