Miyazaki describes himself as a difficult child. “Unlike most kids in Japan, I didn’t have a dream,” he says. “I wasn’t ambitious.” He eventually found himself aimlessly pursuing a degree in social science at the well-respected Keio University. As he approached graduation, he considered applying to a game development studio, but drifted into a job at the US IT company Oracle Corporation.
Several years later, he started thinking about video games again. He met up with some former college friends who suggested new titles to play. One was Ico, a mystical fairytale in which players assume the role of a boy who must lead a waif-like girl by the hand along a castle’s craggy ramparts, pursued by their ghoulish captors. “That game awoke me to the possibilities of the medium,” says Miyazaki. “I wanted to make one myself.”
But Miyazaki had a problem: at 29, he was too old to apply for graduate positions and too inexperienced for anything else. “Not a lot of places would take me,” he says. “From Software was one of the few.” Ema Kodaka, who edits Miyazaki’s scripts, believes this career change, which resulted in a considerable drop in pay, might be why he is held in such regard by his staff. “He is a unique talent,” she says. “In Japan, even today, people usually join a company as a graduate and stay for life. For Miyazaki to change career and, within 10 years, become company president – that’s unprecedented in Japan. It’s inspiring.”
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