Super Mario’s Creator Relaxes His Stance on Violent Video Games

Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto has long been a critic of violent video games, but it seems that he is changing his famous views somewhat.

The upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie is expected to be a massive box office hit. While the film’s presumed success can certainly be attributed to the popularity of the Super Mario franchise itself, others are saying that its incredibly family-friendly nature will be its greatest box office asset. Of course, the Super Mario games themselves are also extremely family-friendly, and Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto has long been a famously vocal critic of violent video games. However, it seems that he may finally be softening his stance on that subject.

In an interview with Variety about the upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie, Miyamoto was once again asked about his long-held, intense stance against violence in video games. Surprisingly, Miyamoto offered a much more subdued answer this time around.

“I want to make it clear that I am not against shooter games and violent games,” Miyamoto said. “There are many mediums that entertain people, but I think it is my mission to find other ways to make an interesting and fun game. I told myself that Mario is a character that never hurts other people, so I wanted to find a different way of expressing Mario.”

Well, first off, it’s kind of funny that Miyamoto says Mario never hurts people. He’s jumped on a ton of heads over the years, and he’s not exactly a lightweight. True, Mario rarely battles humans in the franchise (outside of Super Smash Bros. games and some of the Mario spin-offs, that is), but the suggestion that Mario has never hurt anyone is still pretty funny.

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Semantics aside, Miyamoto’s statement is honestly quite surprising. It might sound like a standard statement on a potentially sensitive subject, but compared to Miyamoto’s previous statements on violent video games, it represents a pretty significant pivot from his previous position.

In 2009, Miyamoto said that he’s he was “concerned that many developers focus just on excessive violence in order to stimulate people’s minds” and that he hopes “parents take advantage of age ratings when letting their children play.” In 2020, he said that he resists “the idea that it’s O.K. to simply kill all monsters” and that it would be great if “video-game makers took more steps to shift the perspective” on violence in video games. He’s also previously referenced the bullying problems in Japan when explaining why he and Nintendo typically focus on more wholesome gaming experiences.

That’s always been the more interesting part of Miyamoto’s beliefs. Miyamoto personally not wanting to make violent video games has never been in doubt, but there’s always been some doubt regarding how his stance on the subject affected the rest of Nintendo. Nintendo has been criticized in the past for being so slow to embrace certain modern trends related to violence in gaming. For instance, Nintendo spent years keeping the GTA franchise away from its major consoles (handheld spin-off titles notwithstanding). There have always been questions about whether or not Miyamoto and Nintendo have been a little too adamant at times about not offering adult gamers easier access to Mature titles via their platforms.

While this statement shouldn’t be taken as a sign that Miyamoto is about to drop the hottest battle royale title of the summer, it could be interpreted to represent Nintendo’s softening stance on the matter. The Switch allows you to access far more Mature titles than previous Nintendo consoles did (including the remastered GTA Trilogy), and there have been quite a few talks about more Call of Duty games coming to Nintendo consoles as part of Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition. It should also be noted that the popularity of the Yakuza and Dark Souls franchises has seemingly inspired more traditional Japanese studios to adopt new philosophies. Even Final Fantasy 16 is darker and more violent than some recent entries have been.

So while Miyamoto himself will probably not make a truly violent video game during his life, it’s certainly interesting to hear that he seems so much more accepting of the role violent video games play and how his titles often serve as a counterbalance to those trends.