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

And-Kensaku, Part 2: The Difference Between Right-Brained and Left-Brained Approaches

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

Part 2 of And-Kensaku.

2. The Difference Between Right-Brained and Left-Brained Approaches

Kan - There’s one thing I felt working with Nintendo this time around - quite often Google’s engineers are praised for their excellence, but it turns out that they’re actually not too good at ideas related to entertainment.

Iwata - That’s probably because the approach that’s taken is different from what they’re used to in their day to day. The engineers at Google are always thinking about practical things to help people out, and on the other hand what Nintendo’s developers think about is obviously not what’s practical, but what’s entertaining. All we ever think about is how to surprise people or make something they’ll enjoy.

Kan - We have different perspectives. This is just my personal take on it, but between the two, I think Google thinks with the left-brain, and Nintendo thinks with the right-brain.

Iwata - So you’re saying that between the two Google uses logical thinking where as Nintendo tends to use artistic and creative thinking (laughs)?

Kan - Yes. We’re lucky to have collected a massive amount of data that users have typed into that search window from the work we’ve taken on day in and day out. Of course, everything we can get that’s not private information.

Iwata - You mean even though you’ve collected all of this data from all over the world, none of it is tied to specific people.

Kan - Right. As such, regardless of what kind of decision we want to make, since it’s based on this massive amount of data, we’re able to go about the decision logically. For instance, one thing we’ve done for a while now is, if someone is logged into their Google Account when searching, we don’t know who that person is, but we can adjust search results based on previous search keyword history and what ads they’ve clicked on.

Iwata - In other words, you can’t pinpoint who that person doing the search is, but you’re able to show them results based on their interests.

Kan - Right. So if we know that the user doesn’t have interest in a particular ad we won’t show it, or if we know they do have interest in a particular ad, we’ll show that one more - it’s the Google way to make decisions like that logically. But Nintendo doesn’t do that, and instead tries to kind of guess at just what your customers want, right?

Iwata - Yes. In some ways you could say our job is to surprise our customers, but you can’t just ask people, “what surprises you?” That’s because people don’t know what they want, or what someone can do to surprise them beforehand. So given that we have to make products by finding potential desires that customers haven’t noticed they have so that they’ll respond with, “Right - I wanted to try playing with something like this!” - we have a somewhat unique job. You just can’t know from asking people directly.

Kan - There’s no way of knowing.

Iwata - Furthermore, for something like the way Mario feels when he jumps - there’s really no way of logically deducing just what feels the best for that jump.

Kan - There really isn’t. Even if you did user research you couldn’t get that answer. And I think that’s where the big difference lies between us and Nintendo. That’s why I think this “And-Kensaku” is a great experiment, since we’ve put together our strengths, and covered each other’s weaknesses.

Iwata - I really think so. To that point, I wonder how you felt after actually playing “And-Kensaku?”

Kan - This is my personal opinion, but to put it simply… I was quite moved.

Iwata - By what in particular?

Kan - For instance, when comparing Tokyo and Osaka as cities, it’s natural to think of Tokyo as the main city, right?

Iwata - Sure. It’s the capital of Japan and even from a population perspective it’s bigger.

Kan - That’s why, when you’re just searching normally you get overwhelmingly more hits from “Tokyo.” But if you change the conditions, searching by phrase (※4), there’s ways that Osaka would come out on top.

Iwata - Phrase search being when you search using double quotation marks “”.

※4 Search by Phrase=When searching And-Kensaku on Google, for instance, it takes And and Kensaku as two separate words, and displays results for pages that contain them separately. But if you search with double quotations, using “And-Kensaku”, you can search for them as a single phrase.

Kan - Right. For instance, between “Famous Tokyo Delicacies” and “Famous Osaka Delicacies,” you get more hits from the latter. I thought it was incredibly interesting to see that made as a game. Anyone can use a search engine, but you start to see new sides to the information like trends and conditions depending on how you use it.

Iwata - Even for search engines, which we use every day without a second thought, there are all kinds of surprising things that can happen if you just change your outlook, and there’s always a reason behind those surprises. When you see several people together trying to reasonably guess these things based on what they know, it can lead to a really unique type of fun when someone manages to make a correct guess on something totally unpredictable.That’s why the more you play this “And-Kensaku,” the more you learn how people think and behave, making it this really unique software where you learn various trivia.

Kan - Right. I personally can’t wait to play it. Of course I already have a Wii (laughs).

Iwata - (laughs)

Kan - But to be honest, I’m not entirely confident that what our staff at Google did was correct. So I’m hoping that I’ll be able to play the finished product, and then stand tall and proud once I’ve confirmed that it was. Also, I was honestly surprised that the title ended up as “And-Kensaku.” I asked the staff members if there was someone named Andou-San in the dev team, but apparently there isn’t.

Iwata - This game features a character named “Andou Kensaku,” a play on the words “And Kensaku” (And-search)(※5), so we went with this name in order to plainly portray the content of the game while at the same time provide a name with familiarity, something that customers could end up loving, but there were plenty of trials and tribulations in deciding on it. Ultimately, games are not something a person couldn’t live without, so it’s not uncommon for a product to eventually disappear into obscurity, regardless of how good it actually is, if their not familiar with it. We thought, that’s something we want to avoid at all costs.

※5 And-search= One way to concentrate a search by searching multiple terms with a space in between them, such as “Kyoto weather.”

Kan - I see. If you don’t mind there’s one more question I’d like to ask.

Iwata - Go ahead.

Kan - When naming a new product do you do and kind of user testing?

Iwata - I can’t say that we don’t do any research in regards to naming…For instance, for the Wii, the development code name was “Revolution.” Let’s assume that, when deciding on the final name, we put ten choices in front of people and asked them to pick one. Even if Wii was one of the names mixed into those choices, I’m pretty sure no one would have picked that as the name.

Kan - I bet you’re right.

Iwata - But we went with Wii, and the result is that it’s been accepted by people all over the world, to the point that now you can’t even imagine it being called anything else.

Kan - Indeed.

Iwata - Those kinds of aspects go along with naming, so it might feel a bit odd looking at it from the Google point of view (laughs).

Kan - It’s that difference between the companies that I mentioned earlier.

Iwata - A difference in approach, it seems.

Kan - I think so.



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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