Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime says he didn’t expect to become such a public face for the company.
Speaking to MTV Multiplayer at the Wii U launch on the weekend, Fils-Aime acknowledged his unusual level of fame, recognised in much wider circles than is usual for an executive.
“It’s very gratifying,” he said.
“It wasn’t planned. When I was hired almost nine years ago, it wasn’t planned that I would play the role that I’m playing, but I think the fans recognize that I play our games. They recognize that I’m passionate about our company. They recognized that I have a point of view, and I articulate that point of view, and I think that’s what they value.
“It’s a very humbling role, and it really makes it special on a night like tonight.”
Interestingly, Fils-Aime doesn’t seem keen to leverage that fame further with as interview series like Nintendo of Japan’s highly successful Iwata Asks, noting that his background doesn’t quite fit the task.
“We have talked about it, and what I will tell you is that it’s important that if we ever do a Reggie Asks that it be on a topic that makes sense. Iwata Asks works because of Mr. Iwata’s background as a game developer himself, so he’s able to have an informed conversation with other developers, and his own curiosity is what drives that conversation,” he said.
“So, certainly if there’s a topic where I have passion and I have curiosity and I have an innate background in, that’s probably the topic that will lead to a Reggie Asks.”
On the subject of Iwata Asks, Fils-Aime said it was the beginning of Nintendo’s new marketing approach of speaking directly to consumers, which has even led to major E3 events held outside the usual schedule in order to be better accessible to external viewers.
“Six years ago was the birth of Iwata Asks, and I would focus on that as the birth of our speaking directly to consumers and informing them of our content, and how we’re thinking,” he said.
“Nintendo Direct is a continued evolution of that, just like our activity in social media with Facebook and Twitter. This is something that, in particular, Mr. Iwata is passionate about, and it’s clear, given his participation in the Nintendo Directs. On a global basis its something that we believe very strongly in, because in the end it’s the consumer that’s excited our brands, and excited about our content and giving them more information to make smart choices is really in everyone’s best interest.”
Fils-Aime’s first public appearances was at E3 2004, a few months after taking up his position as president of the American arm of Nintendo, and was immediately memorable both for his introduction – “My name Reggie. I’m about kicking ass, I’m about taking names” – and for representing the company as it debuted the Wii, perceived as a significant change in the company’s fortunes. He is equally celebrated and derided in Internet culture for his sense of humour, polished approach to appearances, and off-cuff comments (“My body is ready”).