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Iwata Asks: In Commemoration, Part 9 - And-Kensaku

And-Kensaku, Part 1: Since There Were Wii Fans

by the NWR Staff - September 2, 2016, 1:04 am EDT

Part 1 of And-Kensaku.

1. Since There Were Wii Fans

Iwata - Today we’re talking to Kan-san from Google (※1). Thanks for coming.

Kan - Thank you for having me.

※1 Google=Provides internet search services globally. Established in California, America in 1998.

Iwata - Although I use Google’s search engine daily, I never thought that we’d get a chance to partner up with that very company to create a somewhat curious product such as this. Then, one day in passing I mentioned to my staff, “It might be interesting to talk directly with Google,” and here we are!

Kan - (laughs) When I first got your message I happened to be on business in Singapore, and as soon as I read it I thought it sounded like an interesting opportunity. As Iwata-san mentioned, this software - “And-Kensaku” is a product in a very curious area as far as Google is concerned. So of course we thought it would be interesting to take the opportunity to discuss it, and the day has finally come.

Iwata - Thank you so much for making the trip. Let’s get started.

Kan - Ok.

Iwata - First of all, I’d like to ask whether Google has ever had any kind of precedent where you’ve taken this approach to “search” as “play,” like we have for “And-Kensaku.”

Kan - No, not that I’m aware of.

Iwata - When the design first came up within Nintendo for making “play themed around search,” it was actually I who suggested, “If that’s the case, we should probably ask for Google’s advice,” but at the time I had no idea whether it would be something that Google would respond to with, “Sure, let’s go ahead” or “that might not be something we’d be interested in.” When you first got wind of this, what were your thoughts?

Kan - This was three years ago, and honestly I was at a loss.

Iwata - Being something without any precedent before, that’s natural.

Kan - It was completely different compared with the other partnership work I handle day in and day out.

Iwata - And I imagine you had never gotten a request like that before.

Kan - Exactly. That’s why, personally, while I thought it was interesting, I wasn’t sure how to sell it internally… There was also the challenge of being able to provide good quality data for use.

Iwata - The “Challenge of being able to provide good quality data?”

Kan - As a company we’re putting our all into providing the highest quality engine we can around the world, so that’s not an issue. But for this software, what’s required is the “number of hits” you get when you search. For instance, when Googling “Nintendo” something like “About twelve million” (※2) results display, but they’re not all top priority.

※2 This data may differ from the actual number of hits displayed because Google Inc.’s site is constantly being updated.

Iwata - Google is always putting the most energy into displaying the most relevant hits as high up the list on the first page as possible.

Kan - Correct. What you’re talking about is what we call the “First Search Result Page.” Normally when you search we show ten hits per page, and we pour about 80 percent of our resources into ensuring that we’re displaying the absolute most meaningful search results there. The number of hits, on the other hand, is considered more as reference information, and as far as Google is concerned, it’s not particularly high priority.

Iwata - What’s important for people when they’re searching for something isn’t the “amount” of hits, but the “quality” of the information they’re searching out.

Kan - Precisely. But for this software the main point is the number of hits, so at the beginning that was something both sides struggled with.

Iwata - So it wasn’t that we were looking to take your data, reformat it a bit and ask to use it like that, but that Nintendo was looking for data that’s not so easily found.

Kan - Right.

Iwata - I’m not an expert on search engines, but I was originally a programmer, so I have a faint idea that the data used for this software isn’t necessarily something readily available, and no matter how you look at it Google would need to create something that could be used by a special program or else we wouldn’t be able to obtain that data.

Kan - Right. And in moving forward with this job we were prepared to modify the system, which we knew would lead us to a proper solution. In the end we managed to find a workaround together with Nintendo instead, however.

Iwata - You talk about finding proper solutions as if it’s no big deal, but to bring up something like this that has no precedent internally within Google and get the approval of everyone is no easy task. It’s normal that you’d get resistance in regards to the unknown like this.

Kan - To be frank, there were a couple of walls to overcome. In particular, the fact that this has nothing to do with our main work, so there were people that weren’t favorable because of that. However we lucked out that there are a lot of Wii fans among our engineers.

Iwata - Really? (laughs) Thank you for that.

Kan - You may be aware that when you try to use YouTube (※3) in the Wii browser…

Iwata - It recognizes that you’re using the Wii Browser and brings up special UI which makes it easier to watch on TV.

※3 YouTube=Google’s video delivery site, established in 2005 in America.

Kan - Actually, that was made by one of our engineers in their free time. It’s something of a rarity for Google to do as a company.

Iwata - It was created using the famous “20 percent rule” then.

Kan - Right.

Iwata - I know it’s weird for me to explain it (laughs), but Google has a rule called the 20 percent rule, where the internal developers can use 20 percent of their time at work to work on whatever they want outside of their main project. You could call it a “active recommendation system for secret projects.”

Kan - Yes. So it wasn’t like someone told the engineer to make it. Similarly, we had several members who were Nintendo fans who handled Nintendo’s requests for this project.

Iwata - It was because Google had people internally who were interested in doing something with the Wii that became our allies and allowed us to proceed with this kind of unprecedented project that needed so much energy.

Kan - Exactly.



famicomplicatedJames Charlton, Associate Editor (Japan)September 02, 2016

This game is crazy! (Overview video)

Awesome work with the translation as ever Matt!  :cool;

Thanks bro! Glad people are enjoying them. ^^

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