The Worst Way To Meet Miyamoto

The Worst Way To Meet Miyamoto

For a certain type of video game enthusiast, getting to meet Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto is the ultimate dream. You rehearse in your head what you’re going to say. You hope you don’t blow it. In 1997, game music composer Grant Kirkhope had, shall we say, a suboptimal experience meeting Nintendo’s game design guru.

Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

This story, as related in a profile of the developers of Mario & Rabbids, is so cringeworthy that in the interests of fairness and in attempting to illustrate that I truly empathise with Kirkhope’s pain here, I will follow it up by relaying one of my embarrassing stories of meeting a game industry luminary.

Here is Kirkhope’s tale.

It was when E3 had moved to Atlanta [1997]. Nintendo had a party in a museum, and we all got hideously drunk. I saw [Rare founder] Tim Stamper talking to Miyamoto, and I introduced myself as the composer of Banjo-Kazooie, totally drunk. He just looked at me with the blankest expression, he couldn’t tell what I was saying. A while later, I was in the bathroom — and this is embarrassing — I was trying to pull down [Donkey Kong 64 designer] George Andreas’ trousers for a joke. I was on my knees and I looked up to see Miyamoto staring down at me. That was the last time I spoke to him.

Alright. As promised, my story. Around 2005, I was at the inaugural awards ceremony for the short-lived “Walk of Game” in San Francisco. Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell was receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, and I had never met him. There were chicken wings at the afterparty. And I pulled from the buffet tray of wings a weirdly-shaped one that hadn’t been separated cleanly from the chicken, and thus had two bone shards sticking out of it that made the whole thing look like the fried head of a chicken.

That’s what I thought it was at first! I realised it wasn’t, but I showed it to my friend standing nearby anyway. And then, some random person I didn’t know saw me talking about it, and thought it was the most fascinating thing in the world. “We’ve got to show Nolan,” he yelled, and dragged me over to Nolan Bushnell, interrupting his conversation. So that’s how I met one of the fathers of the game industry, looking like some huge dipshit holding a malformed Buffalo wing that as far as he knew I wanted to go show everybody at the party. I couldn’t even shake his hand because my hand was currently clutching a disgusting piece of buffet food and hot sauce was literally starting to run in a rivulet down my wrist.

I don’t think I’ve spoken to Bushnell since. (If I ever do, I’ll probably tell him this story.) We’ll leave off by noting that things all worked out pretty damn great for Kirkhope, currently considered one of the greatest game music composers and working on the Mario & Rabbids score.

This may explain why they moved E3 out of Atlanta, though.


  • I’m sure Miyamoto doesn’t even remember either incident, so no worries. He probably meets hundreds if not thousands of people working in the industry, and he’s probably encountered more than his fair share of drunk employees – while Japanese business culture is pretty stern when you’re within working hours, I’ve heard that it is not uncommon for employees to get hideously drunk, often WITH their bosses, afterhours, and it can even almost a requirement if you want to stay on good terms with your boss, as if they drink, you have to drink too. So I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • You’ve gotta read that comment by Kirkhope in his thick British accent to really sell it.

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