When it comes to gaming, Nintendo is often considered the "Disney" of the medium. After all, no other video game publisher has the same diverse number of properties that appeal to such wide demographics. From Mario to Zelda, Splatoon to Animal Crossing, Metroid to Star Fox, the company has created some of the most iconic characters in popular culture. If Mario is somewhat akin to Mickey Mouse, then Shigeru Miyamoto would be Nintendo's Walt Disney. The iconic developer has been with Nintendo since 1977, and has had a hand in nearly every major property created by the company, since. As Nintendo's current "Creative Fellow," Miyamoto is a huge part of the company's storied history, but he also has a huge role to play in the company's future direction. And Miyamoto clearly has his sights set on where things have to go moving forward.
"Many parents want to keep their children from playing video games," Miyamoto said in an interview with Nikkei (translated by Resetera). "But these same parents have no problem allowing them to watch Disney movies."
"We cannot seriously challenge [Disney] unless parents start feeling comfortable about their children playing Nintendo."
Some parents have no issue with their children playing Nintendo games; there's a reason many gamers can point to a Nintendo console or handheld as their first exposure to the medium. Miyamoto is not wrong, however, in pointing out that video games do carry a certain stigma with some consumers.
Changing the way consumers see video games has been a major part of Nintendo's strategy over the last 15 years. Consoles like Wii and Nintendo DS were targeted towards those who didn't traditionally play video games, and Nintendo-published titles like Brain Age and Wii Sports went a long way towards expanding the potential audience for video games. When viewed through the lens of Miyamoto's most recent comments, those particular moves make a lot of sense.
It's easy to forget that the video game industry is relatively young, in the grand scheme of things. While Mickey Mouse debuted in 1928, Mario has only been around since 1981. In that 38-year timespan, the character has unquestionably become a beloved pop culture staple. Nintendo has a long way to go to reach that same level of influence, but the gaming industry has no greater representative than the mustachioed plumber. With theme park attractions coming soon to Universal Studios parks and an animated film in the works courtesy of Illumination, Nintendo clearly has their eyes on a potential goal. Whether or not Nintendo can ever reach the same level of brand exposure as Disney, however, remains to be seen.