Hidetaka Miyazaki Discovers Ico

Hidetaka Miyazaki Discovers Ico

2001- 2003

Hidetaka Miyazaki used to be an ordinary gamer who worked as an account manager for an IT company. But things started to improve and change for him when he discovered a game called Ico.

Miyazaki had wanted to join the gaming industry since he was in the University. However, he did not get the chance and ended up working on a job he does not truly like. Until one day, he met up with his former college friends who introduced him to the game Ico. This awoken what has been sleeping inside him all these years. His desire to join the gaming industry has been ignited. He wants to make his own game.

However, there is a hurdle. He is already 30 years old.

Discover below how Miyazaki took the journey to enter the gaming industry, how he moved from a consumer of games to one of its premier creators.

Miyazaki the Board Gamer

During his younger days, Miyazaki was not allowed to play video games. It was only during his University days that he was able to do so. However, this does not mean that he has no familiarity or experience in gameplay mechanics and design. What he lacked in video games, he compensated through adventure books and tabletop games. Hence, it could be said that he actually had a stronger foundation when it comes to game design. This form of media cultivated in him a strong sense of creativity, imagination, and exposure to RPG mechanics, a genre he will later master and dominate.

Miyazaki: When I was a kid, I was not allowed to play video games at home until I reached the University. This is one of the reasons why I find it difficult to share what video games I played while growing up. However, I was able to play board games, and one of my favorites is Sorcery. I would open revisit and play that game. Though it is not a video game, it is definitely one of the games that impacted me.

Miyazaki in the University

Miyazaki entered Keio University and took a degree in Social Science. He also completed his graduate studies.

Miyazaki: Back in University, and later on in Graduate School, I was studying Social Sciences. During that time, the Internet had just started. That was a fascinating period. It was a time that made me think about a lot of things. Video games were my main focus, of course, and I was always playing games. Though I'm not a very serious student and not in any way an expert, I believe my studies influenced me. 

Knowll Insight: Even though Miyazaki spent most of his time playing video games during his University days, we don't have much information about what titles he played. Except for one game. And that is the Legend of Zelda. This game influenced a lot of people who will, later on, enter the gaming industry. In the section below, Miyazaki shares his reaction when Dark Souls gets compared to Zelda. 

Miyazaki: When I was still a student, The Legend of Zelda was extremely popular. A truly monumental game. So, to be honest, I feel deeply unworthy of the comparison. The Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls are different though and belonging to separate genres. They are guided by different game design principles and don't have to aspire to the same ideals. There may be some similarities, but they probably come from the fact that The Legend of Zelda became the template for 3D action games.

The relevance of Miyazaki's Social Science Degree

Knowll Insight: During this time, it is not yet apparent how Miyazaki's degree in Social Science would help him in the future as a successful game director. However, Miyazaki himself affirmed multiple times that his degree influenced him in creating the kind of social interaction and network features present in the Souls games.

Miyazaki: I believe my degree in Social Sciences influenced my work, especially on networking and communication. It also had an influence on my worldview, which I think has a particular characteristic that is different from other creators. For example, Bloodborne itself reflects a lot of what I learned as a student.

You may find this a bit pretentious, but when I think about network systems in video games, I view it from a social sciences standpoint.

This also relates to what I'm doing in my creations. Back in Univesity, I studied Sociology and Psychology. I constantly revisit the themes I learned there, and this is the fruit of what you are experiencing now.

Miyazaki's Desire to Enter the Gaming Industry

As early as his university days, Miyazaki already wanted to enter the gaming industry. However, he did not get the chance to do so and ended up working for an IT company called Oracle. Oracle is known for its big market share in database software. 

Miyazaki: I originally wanted to work in the game industry. However, after finishing graduate school, there was a situation, and I needed a lot of money. That's a very easy reason (laughs).

Knowll Insight: During the interview above, Miyazaki shared the info jokingly. However, it is not uncommon for people to take work for the pay, knowing that it does not align with their passion or with what they want to do in their lives.

Miyazaki is still in a state of transition. He is not yet doing what he truly loves, nor loving what he does. He will soon wake up from his slumber.

Miyazaki Discovers Ico

Miyazaki continues working for Oracle. Until one day, he met up with his former college friends who introduced him to the game Ico. This awoken what has been sleeping inside him all these years - that creative impulse to make your own. His desire to join the gaming industry has been ignited.

Miyazaki: That game awoke me to the possibilities of the medium. I wanted to make one myself.

Knowll Insight: Now that Miyazaki has initiated self-realization and re-affirmed what he truly desires, he still has one hurdle to face. He needs to find a new job in the gaming industry.

Without any previous experience and already in his 30, he moves on and continues his journey.