photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
years ago when i was working and living in JAPAN as an english teacher at an international school, i took a trip south in the spring to visit OSAKA, NARA, KYOTO, HIMEJI and HIROSHIMA. all of those cities are historically SIGNIFICANT in the NARRATIVE of the country, especially KYOTO which is arguably the center of TRADITIONAL JAPANESE CULTURE. over a few days i toured the TEMPLES and ZEN GARDENS and my guide told me that there was one other place we'd stop by on the way to the LANDMARK FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE and its FAMOUS orange gates. apparently the AMERICANS really loved this mystery stop.
we pulled up to a NONDESCRIPT grey office building, but it was the UNDERSTATED sign postmarked on the top-right corner that sold it all: NINTENDO. you couldnt get in, but there it was, the headquarters of the LEGENDARY video game company. it is probably the only time in my life i felt like the proverbial charlie outside of the chocolate, wondering what FABULOUS creations lay inside. all those countless hours of CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES playing ZELDA, MARIO, METROID, MEGA MAN and DONKEY KONG originated in that BLAND grey building. it was pretty mesmerizing.
anyway, the recent documentary THE STORY OF NINTENDO (EM PRODUCTIONS, 2023) seeks to explain from a decidedly BRITISH perspective the CORPORATE NARRATIVE of the FAMOUS company from its origins as a card-making company once favored by the YAKUZA at the turn of the century to the modern INNOVATIVE video game behemoth it has become since the 1980s. its an INTRIGUING story because once the company abandoned SIDE BUSINESSES (taxi services and love motels) from its card manufacturing and got into the expanding field of TECHNOLOGY and ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING, its CORPORATE ETHOS is what separated it ultimately from the competition. at its core, NINTENDO always sought to make inclusive games that could be appreciated by HARDCORE players and laymen alike. as once new rivals have emerged and fallen by the way side (ATARI and SEGA), the company has likewise sought to innovate the GAME DESIGN, USER EXPERIENCE and family friendly values in light of COMPETITION that seeks to create HIGH PERFORMANCE PLATFORMS that trade in grizzly and VIOLENT fair for a decidedly adult audience. NINTENDO is often quaint in comparison utilizing older TECHNOLOGY to new CREATIVE ends that seeks to expand CONSUMER EXPECTATIONS towards gaming in general. its almost an oxymoron how NINTENDO looks backwards to look forward.
THE STORY OF NINTENDO itself is a bit NOSTALGIC and SENTIMENTAL and seemingly comes from more than a little ROSE-TINT COLORED perspective, but its insights into NINTENDO's CORPORATE IDENTITY and BUSINESS ETHOS was pretty ILLUMINATING. for them it was about establishing QUALITY product that could be enjoyed by the greatest number of people, not churning out inferior product in the hopes of generating PROFIT. its REFRESHING since MODERN BIG BUSINESS feels like it finds the opposite motivation for what it does, i.e. PROFITS before everything.
if you are interested in CORPORATE ETHOS and CULTURE, especially form a distinctly JAPANESE perspective, then definitely check out this documentary. or, if you are just a fan of NINTENDO, this film is definitely worth your time. enjoy.