Shigeru Miyamoto Honoured As 'Person Of Cultural Merit' By Japanese Government
Shigeru Miyamoto, the legendary video game designer responsible for iconic Nintendo franchises like The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros, Star Fox, F-Zero, and Donkey Kong has officially been recognised by the Japanese government as a Person of Cultural Merit.
This is an incredible honour that's awarded annually by the Japanese government to those who are considered to have made an outstanding cultural contribution across a variety of fields, including the arts, science, and music. Previous honourees include Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, who received the award in 2012.
A shortlist is compiled by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, before the final call is made by the Prime Minister and Cabinet. To date, around 600 people have received the honour.
Miyamoto is one of 20 selected this year, joining the likes of manga creator Moto Hagio and filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi, reports Nikkei (via Kotaku). The award ceremony is set to take place at the Imperial Palace on the Day of Culture, November 3.
The typically humble Miyamoto was reluctant to make the honour about him, instead telling Sankei News that he's grateful for the opportunity to shine a positive light on the genre of video games. He also made sure to thank his colleagues, adding that he "can't do anything alone."
Miyamoto joined Nintendo way back in 1977, just as the company was starting to move into video game development. Starting out as the developer's first artist, he helped create art for the company's first original coin-operated arcade video game, Sheriff.
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His work on the original Donkey Kong in 1981 played a key role in saving Nintendo from financial collapse, and would go on to create further arcade classics in the form of Donkey Kong Jr, Donkey Kong 3, and Mario Bros, in which Donkey Kong's original antagonist Jumpman was re-imagined as a plumber with a brother named Luigi.
As Nintendo headed into the NES/Famicon era, Miyamoto played a crucial role in changing the face of video games as we know it. Super Mario Bros essentially gave birth to the 2D platformer, while The Legend of Zelda is widely recognised as the first open world game.
With both titles, Miyamoto decided it was more important to focus on gameplay rather than high scores, a concept that was more or less unheard of at the time.
Miyamoto would go on to work on some of Nintendo's best-selling and most critically adored games, including Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and the original Pokémon games, inspiring generations of developers in the process.
In 2015, he was appointed Creative Fellow at Nintendo after nearly 40 years with the company. To say this honour is well-deserved would be something of an understatement, then.
Featured Image Credit: Nintendo