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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.

Right.

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.

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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.