IGN: Eiji Aonuma discusses the diversity of the Legend of Zelda team, and what he'd like to see from a Zelda movie or TV show

But who would play Link?

IGN spent a lot of time at E3 2019 chatting with Eiji Aonuma about the Zelda franchise. Most of that content has been covered here, but IGN shared the full interview today, and there's some elements that weren't given their own features. Out of all that, I felt there were two tidbits worth bringing up here. You can see the direct questions and answers below.

Dev team diversity

IGN: Talking about the team that's working on this game, I just read an interview where Mr. Miyamoto told people he doesn't want to hire super passionate game fans anymore, but instead people that have different interests and skill sets. I was wondering what qualities do you look for in people to make them part of the Zelda team? How do you get onto the Zelda team? What makes those people interesting?

Mr. Aonuma: I'm thinking probably very similar to Mr. Miyamoto and not necessarily do I want to work with someone that's good at playing games. I would rather be with people maybe have an interest in climbing mountains or love scuba diving in the ocean. Just someone with a very different skill. And so maybe by having those skills we can incorporate them into our games.

IGN: When I read that statement from Mr. Miyamoto, I thought a lot about diversification of backgrounds. At E3 I keep on seeing companies conscientiously put the spotlight on women developers and developers of color. I was wondering if a diverse team has helped achieve your goals to make the Zelda design team more interesting, background-wise.

Mr. Aonuma: What do you mean specifically diverse in?

IGN: As in people from different backgrounds, or nationalities; women, and people of color.

Mr. Aonuma: I think that's definitely something we think about. And I would love to work with a lot of variety of people with different backgrounds, just because, as I mentioned earlier, I would love to have all their different experiences. But one thing: If they can speak Japanese that would be good, because I can communicate with them.

A Zelda TV show or movie adaptation

IGN: ...if there were a TV show or a movie or something, what game would you think would make a really good world for that movie or TV show to be set in, out of all the many Zelda games?

Mr. Aonuma: I don't know. Honestly I wish we could do it for all of the titles. Or maybe just combine all of them and then something new can be created out of that maybe?


Top Rated Comment

Complete disconnect on the meaning of diversity between the two cultures on display here.

One sees diversity as the unique experiences, professions, likes, and hobbies that define the individual.

The other sees diversity as what skin pigment and sex organs you possess and assume that guarantees a unique individual.

Fri Jun 28 19 11:34pm
Rating: 2

There’s not going to be a ton of diversity in a Japanese company. Maybe at one of Nintendo’s western developers. Kind of a silly question, IMO.

Fri Jun 28 19 11:52pm
Rating: 1

I also presume there's a cultural dissonance with that question. I mean, Japan isn't America, nor it has the same politics or expectations in their work culture. In regards to solely Nintendo they also have mentioned they like to look for people that aren't that passionate about games because they want people from other backgrounds to bring new ideas and don't have expectations players may have on how to make games. (Perhaps I'm assuming too much, but they did something along those lines).

he mention scuba diving and climbing mountains... I hope we can swim and explore deep under water in breath of the wild 2!

That got my attention too. It would give the game a lot more depth (harrharr) with a lot of under water places to get into.

There is just so much potential for this sequel. The engine is there (and can be tweaked), the world is there but it's obvious from the teaser it will be different. So just build upon BOTW in many ways. Just imagine some underwater lurking. Perhaps an insane underwater temple, eh? What about a dungeon boss who is the dungeon itself (a bit like the beasts from BOTW perhaps, but actually fighting the ting from within etc)

There is just so much they can do here....

I like Aonuma mentions different backgrounds and the IGN reporter immediately turns it into a question about race and nationality. Really revealing your whole hand there.

Sat Jun 29 19 01:47am
Rating: 3

Well, you know, IGN’s offices are in San Francisco. Just sayin’.

Complete disconnect on the meaning of diversity between the two cultures on display here.

One sees diversity as the unique experiences, professions, likes, and hobbies that define the individual.

The other sees diversity as what skin pigment and sex organs you possess and assume that guarantees a unique individual.

But what a lot of people who harp against "diversity" don't realize is that those in a minority, be they women, POC, LGBTQ+, etc, have different lived experiences than the majority (heterosexual men, and usually white heterosexual men; although that doesn't necessarily apply here given Japan is so racially homogenous), and thus contribute unique perspectives others might not see. You can't assume that what might seem fine to all around you might raise red flags to others, and likewise, there are things that might be thought of by some that would otherwise never occur to the larger group.

I will admit the interviewer isn't taking into account that Zelda is being made by Japanese people, who, and this is true, are all people of color, making that part of the question redundant; but the point is there's a difference between hobbies making you diverse -- whatever that means -- and the innate physical qualities that cause you to be viewed differently by the world at large b

I think what Snailperson is getting at is that your gender, sexuality or race doesn’t automatically provide “diversity” but the current western definition of diversity is just that and uses only that as it’s metric to measure diversity. I’m not saying non-binary, gay, POC don’t often have their unique experiences - they usually do. Everyone, regardless of race, gender, etc, has unique experiences. If we focus on the person we’ll find much more diversity in our communities and workplaces, that will inherently include people from all walks of life.

I’m a “diversity” statistic for my (American) company as a gay man. But my life experience and perspective is pretty much identical to my straight colleagues yet the company can declare “diversity” just because of my sexuality....doesn’t seem right to be honest.

Sure if two white men grew up in the same town there’s a good chance there isn’t much difference between their life experiences. But take two white men who grew up in completely different countries and cultures and they are likely to be very diverse individuals - but the “diversity” movement of corporate America sees them both as being pretty much the same person.

My point is, diversity isn’t only skin deep.

I find it odd, and rather amusing, that you are the one stereotyping way more than white, hetero males.

Aonuma NAILED this one so good it must hurt for some people. Sometimes the truth hurts, I know!

What the hell are you talking about?

That the SJW/Liberals/Whatever are the ones stereoptyping the most. That hypocrite Hell! ;)

Where am I stereotyping? By saying that a straight white man can't fully understand the lived experiences of a gay black woman? That's just true.

Again, not you in person, but your "side" in general. Can an Asian bisexual man undertsand a gay black, American woman? What about a straight Muslim woman? Does it always have to be "straight, white men?"? Smile

Seems like it has become an ideology and within that a gang mentalityt. "Not on our side? Then you our enemy!!!!!" And thus come the buzz wordslike "bigot", "racist", "Nazi", "Something-a-phobe" etc...

And calling people for "NAzi" if they don't agree entireøy to the SJW ideology is lower than low. Both my father and grandfather were in the second world war (My grandfather in both wars, actually). I understand that many Americans think American movies are mirrors into the past, but nope. Not how it is.

OK. Nevermind. We probably will not agree on everything, but a little friendly advice (since I actually do like you from our chats here): gang menntality doesn't work and is not a good thing. I look mostly at individuals, and thus I have friends from all around (still no trans people, though) but it's getting a bit hard, even for me. But let's educate each other, Mock! Better that way =)

(Like...Islam is a religion, not a race)

But again: Eiji-san killed it with this comment. Much respect earned.

You are reading a lot more into my comment than I even began to say, but okay.

Your examples, whether you knew it or not, are the exact same difference. A bisexual Asian man can understand a black lesbian can understand a straight Muslim woman, that's not the issue. The issue is that, unless you become truly enmeshed within that community, you're not going to know the particular day-to-day lived experiences of someone whose race, gender identity, or sexual orientation you don't share. The reason we talk about straight white men is that, in many cases, straight white men have the political and cultural power. Let's say, for the sake of argument, I wanted to write a book in which the protagonist is... *spins wheel*... a female native Alaskan... *spin*... dogsled racer... *spin*... struggling with alcoholism and poverty. Coming from me, that's going to be inauthentic, because I'm a white man who hates sports and has heretofore never had issues with substance abuse or money. There are nuances to that life that I cannot possibly fully comprehend no matter how much research I do. In fact, let's put it another way: just because I'm gay doesn't mean I can in any way speak for every gay man, or even every gay man of my race and class. That's why it's important to have people from all different backgrounds on projects, be they creative endeavors or not, because if you just have a bunch of people who have more similarities than differences, there are bound to be blind spots that don't get noticed until it's too late. What one does in their free time, i.e. going hiking vs. reading 18th century literature, is great for swapping stories and talking about what one did over the weekend, but hiking hobbyist don't experience political oppression, which makes that an inaccurate measure of diversity.

You're right in that the word "nazi" does get thrown around more than necessary, but -- and with veterans in your family, surely you can recognize this more than most -- white nationalism, fascism, and yes, even naziism are reemerging around the world. That said, even though not all ideology rises to that level, sometimes things that are called racist, bigoted, or homophobic can indeed be racist, bigoted, or homophobic. Some people throw these words around willy-nilly, it's true, but that doesn't mean that everything called as much is undeserving of the label. Denying housing to a transwoman by virtue of her gender identity is transphobic. Denying a loan to a black person by virtue of their race is racist. It's important to be discerning on these things instead of just writing everything off cart blanche because some over-reactors are abusing the terms. (On another note, I truly don't understand your movie analogy, care to elaborate? I'm not sure anyone is holding up Saving Private Ryan as a documentary.)

Look, in a perfect world, we would just have to look at the individual. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world, and there are groups of people out there who have parts of the deck stacked against them. It's important to recognize this, because humans are wired to subconsciously stick with like-minded individuals, and it's too easy to fall into the trap of inadvertently excluding those whose identities differ from yours. To be clear, we are *all* guilty of this, me, you, everybody, at least sometimes. The results can truly vary: on the one hand, people might put up a sign at their office and not realize that the wording may be insensitive to some people, even though no malice was meant. On the other hand... and you're not gonna like me when I say this... you get literal, historical nazis. If anything, that leads to the gang mentality you despise: gangs that serve to exclude and other rather than celebrate the diversity around us.

Also, while you are technically correct that Islam is a religion and not a race, in America at least the line is so blurred between Islamophobia and racism that a lot of Islamophobia is actually racist. If you don't believe me, ask yourself this question: when was the last time you saw pictures of a mosque occupied mostly by white people?

Why always the white, hetero males though? I just don't agree with that. I mean, personally I don't care what people call me, but it is getting annoying to see the hypocrisy. I think a hetero Cihnese guy can relate to a blacl lesbian just as much as a white hetero guy...And no, white heter males do not control the world. America even had a black president for 8 years for feck's sake. The Annunaki Rothchilds are the ones controling the world...MUAHHAAH.. I jest, I jest ;)

There was this pride parade here in Oslo not so long ago and it looked like there were more hetero people there to suport the movement than actal gays. So the Western world has changed a deal now. In bery reigious countries is where the movement and people are in danger. Here it was, as said, just religious groups who had a fit about it.

And Islam IS a religion. It's the liberal side who make it into a "race". Even Muslims are against that. It's silly.. It's stupid. And why would a mosque have white people only Yes, several white people have converted to Islam, but it's mostly middle east (and African) religion. It HAS roots in Europe, I know, and growing, but still not our "main" religion.

Oh and I don't think "white nationalism" is growing more than any other nationalism. And that is why Europe, at least, is splitting.

But I gotta go, Mock! HAve a great day, OK? Smile

Sat Jun 29 19 01:42am
Rating: 3

It would be nice for America, and the West in general, to understand that Japan is Japan. Aonuma said it perfect: Look for peope with good qualifications and different ideas/experiences. Not the "We have to hire some black guy, or woman, to look nice" mentality.

And yeah, it helps to speak the language of the country you live/work in when you live/work there. Who would have thought?

A perfect example of ACTUAL, genuine diversity, meaning a diversity of experiences and ideas and personalities.

Versus the modern, hollow, pointless American ideal of "diversity", which is based on nothing more than arbitrary personal details, such as gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference. Things that do not make you "diverse", especially within your own "groups", wherein by and large you are fully expected to conform to, and not diverge FROM, the generally accepted way the group is supposed to look/talk/think/act.

It's very telling that Japan is so far removed from our toxic SJW culture that has taken over so much of our media, that they don't even know what the hell we're talking about when we mention OUR absurd notion of "diversity".

Sat Jun 29 19 08:28am
(Updated 1 time)

What people in America don't understand is that black people, white people, Asian people, straight people, gay people, men and women, are all way more alike than they are different.

A group of all white men (which seems to be a group America hates) could easily be more diverse than a group that looks more diverse when you actually learn about their backgrounds and experiences. But the only thing that seems to matter is superficial diversity. We are taught that race, gender, and sexual orientation don't matter but then they get treated like they are the most important thing about a person.

A gay person may have some issues because of it but I've had my own unique problems in life just the same. They don't bring more diversity of thought to a situation than I do.

Edit: I also don't want everything to be diverse in the same way. I want games made by all (or mostly) women and games made by all (or mostly) men. I want games made by all Japanese. If you blend everything together it is all going to taste the same. I think diversity should mean a wide variety of products available not that every dev studio meets some idealized perfect blend of races genders cultures and so on.

The reaction from Aonuma is priceless on that second line of questioning. He's probably wondering what the hell he's going on about.

Tue Jul 02 19 06:47am
(Updated 1 time)

I just can't get over how priceless his comment is and how the SJW must suffer from it. Individuality, not stereotyping. I love irony.


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