The Iwata Asks series is a brilliant idea! The interview President Iwata conducts with the developers and designers of the now-ancient Game & Watch series reveals the kind of environment that contributes to making truly great video games. Unconcerned with sales figures, the designers of the G&W games all took turns programming and constructing the games, and designing the game concepts. The sheer limitations of the G&W platform–a mere converted calculator–were far from something that hindered its capacity to foster creativity, it provided a framework through which fifty-nine games were made!
Iwata makes a point of this, commenting that the sheer difficulty of testing the operation of the game (having to physically make the game area with a piece of photo-sensitive film) contributed to the creativity of the platform’s development: their (what I can only assume to be) supervisor, Yokoi-san, would regularly send the designers back to remake a game to introduce difficult elements! The fact that the development team went to a department store to help promote the games might be a bit of exaggerated nostalgia, but it certainly highlights something important that has been lost by the games industry today – focus on making games an art, and not a commodity.
The Iwata asks series really is a great way to explore game theory and development, I’m immensely glad Nintendo went and did it.
Read it here.