Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shigesato Itoi - BitNick's Career Exemplar (and subject of recent FanArt)(but not the creepy kind)

Last week, I was inspired.

A friend had called me to talk games, which I was more than happy to do. He and I talked about some of the recent games we had been playing (Prototype, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Assassin's Creed II to name a few), then discussed some upcoming films we were excited to see (Liam Neeson plays Alaskan Liam Neeson, in I Will Punch a Wolf with Broken Medicine Bottles Between my Knuckles, which came out last week).
*In Movie-Trailer-Guy voice*
When wolves kidnapped his daughter, one man would do anything to get her back...
Even kill the wolves who raised him as their own!
All of these things were exciting, and the conversation was sparkling, when my friend asked a fateful question: "Have you ever played EarthBound?"

"Have I..." I sputtered. "Have... I played EARTHBOUND?!"

Of course I had! It was one of BitNick's Top Three favorite games of all time! It's reality-bending final battle was one of the things I described to help Mrs. Bit realize that there was more to gaming than wanton slaughter, and polygonal whores, and the wanton slaughter of polygonal whores. EarthBound, played when I was 9 years-old, changed my perceptions and touched my heart.

I attempted to describe how wonderful the Mother series was without sounding like a crazy person, and ended up feeling a lot like THIS. Thanks Zac Gorman! I described the games themselves, their exploration of extremely difficult themes through gameplay rather than cutscenes or structure, and then moved straight into Part 2 of my Mother Series presentation, and talked about how extraordinary the creator of the series was.

In spite of my mania, and unlike what happened in the above artist's dream, my friend was very interested in playing EarthBound and Mother 3 because of what I told him! Every time I convince someone to play these games, I feel like the greatest person in the world, because I'm helping spread something beautiful.

Our conversation concluded, and I was left to introspection. I contemplated and pondered; I meditated and scrutinized; What was it that I found so compelling about the Mother Series and its creator?

I found my answer, and perhaps I would explore it on 8BitVS if there was some interest from the readership in hearing about it. Some parts of my connection are deeply personal, and deserve a post of their own.

Anyway, The point is:

This is Shigesato Itoi. He is an AMAZING man, and this is a desktop background I created to remind myself that I want to be more like him, professionally speaking.

If you like it, feel free to download a copy.
If you were to go to Japan and ask people on the street if they knew who Shigesato Itoi was, 95% would say "Of course!" If you were then to ask how they know him you would get a different answer every time:

"He's that amazing essayist!"
"He brought the art of copywriting to Japan!"
"He was the voice actor from those Miyazaki films!"
"He's a guest judge on Top Chef Japan!"
"He's the creator of The Mother series!"

Mr. Itoi is obviously a man of many talents, but I believe that there is one thing, above all else, that makes his work so engaging: Shigesato Itoi simply GIVES A DAMN about his work. He pours himself, body and soul, into what he's doing, lending a feeling of decency and personal contact to his projects.

That is who I strive to be. The world needs more artists, people who care about their work and do it right because it makes them happy. Here's to hoping for a world full of painting artists, writing artists, business artists, customer-service artists, and everything in between.

When that world finally arrives, I'll be there. Will you?



  1. This article was a great read, especially considering that our opinions on Itoi are so similar, BitNick. Pretty much anything that Itoi has done has earned my fandom and/or respect, but the MOTHER series in particular is just downright beautiful. Believe it or not, I actually did get into it thanks to you BitNick, but I suppose that's a story for another time.

    Also, I'm still fairly young, but I do want to find that special occupation that I can really pour it all into like Itoi does. Whatever that may be though, I'll see you in the world of passionate and caring work when it finally comes around! Great work!

  2. Entertaining read as usual - and bonus: educational.

    I will admit, I know very little about specific developers or even development teams in general. I have been playing games forever, and have gone through my share, and likely then some - but I tend to gloss over all but the most-talked about figures in the industry.

    I will admit - I have not played any of the games in that series

    *dodges potentially thrown rotten fruits and veggies*

    That said, I'm curious - it sounds like you recommend this game, this series often. And you've clearly had some like-minded people take to it. Have you had any afterward jar you with something like: Yeah, played for 10 minutes, couldn't get into it or simply saying: meh, was okay. not great. If so, how did you feel about that? Obviously opinions are just that - opinions and they vary wildly from person to person, but you're clearly very vested in the game, the series and Itoi so I'm curious.

    Lastly, I wish you the absolute best of luck in your goals here, and hey - I just poke by the blog, try to leave some feedback and play some games - but I definitely support your efforts and plan to 'be there'. ;)

  3. @Dawmination

    You, sir, are a man after my own heart! I'm really glad that you took the risk to try something that I so obviously had an attachment to. Y'know, if you wanted to share that story (or any other game-related tale, for that matter) I'm looking for some people to write some articles for "Outside the Bit"... If you're interested, just drop me a line!

    Itoi really is a spectacular guy, and has such a strong sense of how to inject humanity into his work. I know you've got time to decide what you'll pump your artistry into, but I'm just glad that you'll be there with me.


    Glad to hear that you enjoyed it! It a;ways brightens up The 8-Bit Variety Show when you come around, Chalgyr.

    I probably know a few more developers than your average gamer, but I still don't know that many. Itoi is quite special in the way that he approaches development (since he is not, primarily, a game developer), so it really adds a novel aspect to his games. That's part of the reason they are so beautiful, methinks.

    In regard to your question, yes, it has happened, but it's rare. Most of the people that I can convince to play the games end up coming away saying that "They can't believe that they never played those games before." As you aptly pointed out, opinions are opinions, and sometimes they just don't match up, even amongst friends. Some of them had to sit down with me after they completed the game and have a conversation about WHY I found it so compelling before they realized some things that they missed.

    If you ever get a chance, I cannot recommend EarthBound and Mother 3 highly enough. Whether you like it or not, no judgement.

    We'll see you 'There', Chalgyr.


    P.S. Don't worry about having rotten fruits and vegetables thrown at you here. On account of an agreement with Capcom, we at The 8-Bit Variety Show exclusively throw empty E-Tanks.

  4. @BitNick - I will definitely keep those games in mind for a restless, video-gamey day. :) Also? Good call on the E-Tanks. If they were full, you risk throwing out your back when you chuck them.

  5. Come back to the blogosphere, already! Criminy! :p

  6. You will be an Itoi one day!! I believe in you! You can be a hero to others! Start writing again! We miss your humor and wit and information! :)


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