Shigeru Miyamoto (宮本 茂) was born in Sonebe, Japan on November 16, 1952. Miyamoto has a wife, Yasuko, who used to be General Manager of Nintendo Co., Ltd. back in 1977. They have two children together, although none of them seem interested in working at Nintendo. Although Miyamoto has developed a number of very popular videogame franchises and icons over the years, he usually doesn't play videogames in his free time, choosing instead to play the guitar and banjo and spend time with his family.
When Miyamoto was young, he used to explore the woods around his home. One day, he was shocked to find an entrance to a cave. He came back again and again until one day, when he mustered up enough courage to go inside. Another time, he was exploring on the mountains, and he came upon a lake, which to him, as he later explained, looked like a "vast ocean." These experiences inspired Miyamoto later to create The Legend of Zelda, and as a result, they appear many times in the series.
Miyamoto graduated from Kanazawa Munici College of Industrial Arts, and in 1977, he had his father contact an old friend of the family, Hiroshi Yamauchi. When Miyamoto initially met Yamauchi, he was told to return with toy ideas. He did just that, and Yamauchi was hired as a staff artist for Nintendo.
Within the next few years, Miyamoto would design the outer look of Nintendo's Racing 112, Blockbuster, Color TV Game 6, and Color TV Game 15. He also drew the characters for Nintendo's Space Fever, Sheriff, and Space Firebird. He also did the actual arcade cabinet art for Sheriff and Radarscope.
Around 1980, Minoru Arakawa, Yamauchi's son-in-law, created Nintendo of America (NoA) in New York in order to distribute Nintendo's arcade games. Sheriff and Space Fever didn't do amazingly, and when Nintendo of America spent oodles and oodles of cash on buying 3,000 units of Radarscope, which Arakawa believed would do amazingly in the U.S.
He was wrong.
NoA was able to sell 1,000 units, but they had 2,000 units with a game that wouldn't sell. With their cash running out, a game had to be put into these units that could generate some cash, and so Hiroshi Yamauchi asked Miyamoto to create the game, for he was the only one available.
With the assistance of Gunpei Yokoi, Miyamoto conceptualized and developed Donkey Kong after Yokoi's own ideas involving a seesaw didn't work out and a Popeye license that Nintendo tried to snag fell through. Miyamoto created and drew the characters of the game, who were Jumpman, Lady, and of course, Donkey Kong.
When NoA played the game, they were worried it wouldn't catch on with American audiences. However, it was the only game that they had, so they prepared it for its US release. "Lady" was renamed "Pauline" after Don James' (NoA's warehouse manager) wife, Polly James. Jumpman was renamed Mario, after NoA's landlord, Mario Segale, burst in demanding the rent.
In 1983, Nintendo released the Famicom in Japan, and brought it to the United States in the form of the NES in 1985. One of the flagship titles of the NES was a game designed by Miyamoto, called Super Mario Bros.. Miyamoto also designed another game for the NES that later spawned a long-living, successful series: The Legend of Zelda.
Both the Zelda and Mario franchises have been outstanding sellers, with Mario selling almost 275 million units and Zelda selling 47 million units as of 2005.
Miyamoto has not only been involved with Mario and Zelda over the years. He worked on many other well-known franchises as well, including Star Fox, Pikmin, Nintendogs, F-Zero, Earthbound, Metroid Prime, and Animal Forest.
Of particular notability is Nintendogs, whose concept was based on Miyamoto's experiences with his own dog. The game has been released on the Nintendo DS in six different versions worldwide, and as Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced on March 23, 2006, Nintendogs has sold 6 million units worldwide.
In 1998, Miyamoto was the first person to be accepted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame.
In March of 2005, Miyamoto was one of the first people to be honored with a star on the Walk of Game, San Francisco's equivalent of Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
On March 13, 2006, Shigeru Miyamoto was knighted into the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres with fellow game developers Michel Ancel and Frédérick Raynal.
As of 2006, Miyamoto is Director and General Manager of Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development along with long-time Nintendo veteran Takashi Tezuka, and it is the largest of Nintendo's divisions. Nintendo EAD develops the majority of Nintendo's games, including Mario, Zelda, and Pikmin titles.