Miyamoto, Inafune, Ian, me. That is the three degrees of separation between Miyamoto and me.

There is a well known theory that everyone is connected to everyone else in the world in just six steps. There is also a trivia game that connects actors to Kevin Bacon through working together on the same movie, where the number of steps is called a “Bacon Number”.

If we apply the same idea to get a “Miyamoto Number,” where you connect people by the games they worked on, then my number is probably 2. I worked with Kelly on BioShock, and Kelly worked for Nintendo for 12 years, so she must have worked on a game that Miyamoto made.

So what does this have to do with understanding the games industry?

The first thing you should know about the games industry is that it is small and fairly tight knit.

Kevin Bacon works well in the movie connections game because he has worked on a lot of movies with lots of different people. Shigeru Miyamoto has only worked for Nintendo, and Japanese companies aren’t exactly known for employee turnovers, yet I am willing to bet that the average “Miyamoto Number” is only three. The Platform/Publisher/Developer structure of the games industry contributes to this, but that a post for another time.

The main reason is that there just aren’t that many successful studios out there. Once you’ve made a successful game, the next place you pick to work for is probably another high profile studio.

Even if you don’t have colleagues at a studio, you are likely to meet people from there during industry gatherings like E3 or GDC. A lot of game developers are video game fanboys at heart, so there is a bit of mutual admiration society going on that those events.

While the games industry looks like a corporate behemoth, raking in the record revenue, at its core, there is a small group of gamers working very hard to please other gamers.

p.s. For the developers out there, what’s your Miyamoto Number?

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