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Talking with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, Part 3

Talking with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, Part 3 (photo)

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In this final part of my E3 interview with Reggie Fils-Aime (check out parts one and two), Nintendo’s idea-centric approach to gamemaking and how it informed the creation of the upcoming 3DS handheld-gets discussed. He also talks about Hollywood’s interest in the device as a 3D-capable platform and how movies might find their way onto it. Finally, he admits the one area where the current leader in the video game space needs to improve.

At the press conference, there seemed to be a curious lack of anything on the Vitality Sensor. The perception is that’s one of Mr. Iwata’s pet projects and people were surprised there was no update on it. Can you explain the decision not to talk about it at all?

Sure. It’s a very easy decision. E3 is about excitement. This show is for folks like yourself running from booth to booth, interview to interview. It is high-stress, high-pressure, high activity.

That sounds like a great place to test a Vitality Sensor, Reggie.

It’s actually the perfectly opposite place for a product like the Vitality Sensor.

How so?

Our concern was that people are so amped that to show a product that by definition is about looking inward and being calm and, if you will, listening to your body, that it was just not the right place. So we’re going to show it, it’s continuing on track, but we made decision not to show it here.

Okay. But you guys obviously are talking about a new hardware with the 3DS. So walk me through a little bit with regard to the decision to implement 3D. Mr. Iwata has said that Nintendo’s always working on hardware. For example, with the first version of the DS, you decided its features and what the DS is going to be and locked in the specs, the hardware, the form factor. Once that’s done, on to the next thing, right? At some point, there’s a continuous product development curve.


At what point does this new thing-which is now the 3DS-become the way you deliver 3D? When was that big decision made?

So there are a couple of other insights to Nintendo product development. First, when we have an idea stuck in our heard, we keep working on it and 3D has been stock in our heard for 15 years.

Okay. Going back to what?

Virtual Boy.

So, you’re saying there’s a legacy there.

Absolutely. Second, we were fortunate that we have software developers side by side with our developers. And when the software developer comes up with an idea that can’t be done with the current system, that’s when hardware development for the next generation truly begin to earnest.

Project Sora, which began what? Just over a year ago. You know, I wasn’t there but I suspect someone came forward with an idea that said, you know, the technologies at the point where a 3D game can be done and we have got a perfect franchise to do it with, and it’s “Kid Icarus” [which started as Project Sora].

So if I can paraphrase, you’re saying essentially, “Hey, we have got this tech that can do this.” And then–

It starts with, “We’ve got an idea.” We have been working with this technology for a long time, suddenly, the tech capability has caught up with our vision and we have this creative idea to bring it to life, now it’s time to go.

It’s funny, because “Kid Icarus” is one of those Nintendo properties that people have been champing at the bit for ages. You guys always marry these beloved first-party characters to new innovations of hardware. Is that just canny planning? What’s the idea behind that? I mean, why wasn’t Mario the character who was used to debut the 3DS versus lead character Pit from “Kid Icarus,” for instance?

Well, “Kid Icarus,” because of the flying and the ground battle, really is tailor-made for the 3D type of experience. There’s another way to think about this, though. I mean, yes, we are fortunate that we have a veritable vault of fantastic franchises. But the other thing that we pride ourselves is constantly looking for new experiences and new franchises. You know, I am absolutely looking forward to “Kid Icarus: Uprising.” But, the next game I personally will buy will be “Steel Diver,” because that’s another one that, to me, in a 3D environment plays exceptionally well.


There’s a lot of talk about other content partners, non-game content partners showing up on the 3DS. What’s going to be the delivery system there? Download, SD cards?

We haven’t finalized it. We haven’t finalized the business terms for something like movies. But the great news is that we do have a variety of different options.

I feel like consumers are so used to going into an online hub, be it an App Store or whatever, and getting their content that way. Do you guys feel confident in building such an infrastructure or are you going to leave it up to the partners, the movie studios and such?

Let’s take this out of specifically movies. One of the things I love about this company is that we constantly look at our performance, and even when we are dominating a particular generation, we look hard to say what can we do better. And as we sit here today, we know we have to do digital better. And so, we will do digital better. How that looks will be different than what current players do in digital.

Why? Because we’re compelled to innovate, we’re compelled to bring this experience forward in a way that in our view is more compelling for the consumer. And so, I can’t and I won’t give you the details of our digital strategy, but what I will tell you is that our digital strategy will be significantly more robust, significantly more compelling than what we have done today.

So you can’t tell me the details. Can you tell me when we might expect this evolution to happen? From a practical standpoint and if you’re waiting too long to rollout, then people just may be into it.

That is very true. What I can tell you is when you rollout a new hardware, it’s a perfect time to roll out this type of step-change.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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