How Nintendo told gamers to get lost

Mr Miyamoto wanted you to get lost. The propulsive, unidirectional energy of “Super Mario Bros” was a holdover from the era of coin-gobbling video-game arcades. By contrast, “The Legend of Zelda” rewarded stoic perseverance, frequently leaving the player puzzling over what to do next. The aspirations of “The Legend of Zelda” had less in common with the feverish spirit of the arcades than of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The inspiration for this style of gameplay was Mr Miyamoto’s own childhood memories from the countryside of Sonobe, Japan: combing rice fields, scaling hillsides, fishing lakes. One foundational experience he had as a child was stumbling upon a cave, which he eventually mustered the courage to enter by the light of a homemade lantern “The game is not for children,” he would later say, “it is for me.” Link, like Mr Miyamoto, is left-handed. Sonobe is 20 minutes from my current “home” - coincidence? Not really, I think.