This past spring I had a lot of fun playing through Masahiro Sakurai’s works and picking apart the elements of his design approach. It was certainly a highlight of the year. I figured why not do it again next year with another prominent game director? I already have a few devs that I’m thinking about:
1. Shigeru Miyamoto
Most Prominent Games: Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Pikmin
As a Nintendo fan, Miyamoto is obviously a safe next choice. No other game designer has been as prolific or as experimental as this man. He always designs with gameplay first, constantly reinventing the way people interact with games. As the grandfather of both Platformers and exploration games, the industry owes a lot to Shigeru Miyamoto’s work.
2. Hironobu Sakaguchi
Most Prominent Games: Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Lost Odyssey, The Last Story
A designer at Squaresoft in the ’80s and ’90s, Sakaguchi is credited for creating the Final Fantasy series and making it the premier JRPG series across the world. After leaving Square in the mid-2000s, the series just hasn’t been the same. For a while, Sakaguchi started his own company and tried making his own RPGs. But now? He’s working on mobile games. How did the creator of some of the most ground-breaking games of the ’90s end up the way he did? I need to know.
3. Tetsuya Takahashi
Most Prominent Games: Xenogears, Xenosaga, Xenoblade Chronicles
Basically like Sakaguchi, only he gets a happier ending. Takahashi also worked at Squaresoft in the ’90s, leaving it in the 2000s to make his own company. After struggling during the PS2 and GameCube era, he was taken under Nintendo’s wing and has flourished ever since. Though he may not be as well-known as the other devs on this list, he has a passion and a mind full of unique ideas that I can’t help but admire. To me, he is the Sakaguchi of the 2010s.
4. Hideo Kojima
Most Prominent Games: Metal Gear Solid, Death Stranding
Kojima started at Konami where he worked on the Metal Gear series and visual novels. A pioneer of the Stealth genre, and a brilliant designer, he is the closest we have to a “Steven Spielberg” of the gaming industry. His controversial recent release Death Stranding only makes me more curious about the man.
So those are the developers that most interest me at the moment. I’m mostly leaning towards Shigeru Miyamoto, but I’m open to anyone else’s ideas as well. Eventually I’d love to cover as many as I can and maybe I’ll expand it to other kinds of devs, like soundtrack composers!