“It was a type of instant ramen, and a complete failure at that. When Mintendo was listed on the stock exchange for the first time ever in sixty-two years, the stocks had dropped from 980 yen to 60 yen. The company was that close to shutting down.
It seemed the executive director had basically gone through hell and back.
“He eventually made it to the top after going through all of that.”
“Coincidently, Mintendo changed its course to being a toy company after he approved of the toy I happened to make.”
“Oh! The Ultra-Hand?” I asked. I made a gesture of gripping something with both hands, and Mr. Kunpei turned slightly red, as if he were embarrassed.
“Who would have known that something I just made for fun with remaining factory material would be such a big hit?”
“It would have been a pretty cool toy to play with for kids back then.”
“Mr. Kamauchi was actually against the ‘family’ project at the beginning. The young man that used to always go for new challenges became a coward after facing so many difficulties. Of course, I understand the director may want to be satisfied in this current comfort zone. We never know if the new console would be an opportunity or be toxic for us.”
Mr. Kunpei smiled sadly and gripped the steamy teacup in his hand.
A few days later, I requested to have a one on one conversation with Director Kamauchi considering the next generation development. Director Kamauchi, who’s always grumpy like the Scrooge himself, looked at me in awe as when he called me to his office.
“What a surprise, Mr. Kang. I never would have expected you to ask to see me privately.”
“I know, right? I always see you with Mr. Kunpei or Mr. Sigei, so it’s a little awkward, being alone with you.”
“Your way of speech hasn’t changed a bit after all these years.”
“Truth is, I wanted to see you about the new device we’re developing.”
“Is there a problem?”
“There’s several, but I’ll just mention a few.”
“Look at you. All right, fire away.”
“In Korean, there’s an idiom that goes ‘whatever is cheap is a bean-curd rice cake’”
“Eh? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It refers to rice cakes that are made with the residue from making tofu using rice flour or regular flour.”
“Oho. That sounds quite good.”
“In Korea, these rice cakes are used to refer to something that is good for nothing. That’s because they’re a lot cheaper than other rice cakes and isn’t quite as filling. They rot easier, too.”
“Is that so? What’s your reason for telling me this?”
“I’m referring to our Super Family.”
“Director, you keep lowering the unit price of the raw materials. Of course, the more we lower the unit price, the more it benefits the company, but at this state, we’re going to have to put a lot into follow-up management. Like you said, this is a Gameboy that young children will be playing with. They have to be sturdy without breaking.”
“I’m telling you, why did you pour so much budget into that controller at the beginning….”
“Director.. I’m talking about the console techniques, so why are you bringing up the controllers that have already been developed?”
Including the select button and the start button, the six-button game pad that had been made before the Super Family had eight buttons total and four direction cross key.
Director Kamauchi had seen the early controller concept and rejected the idea, saying it was too complicated for children to play with, but I had pushed for the six-button structure controller.
One would simply think a controller is meant for controlling a character in a game, but there was so much more a controller could do.
That is because there are so many alternatives made in button games other than making the characters ‘act’ with the simple push of buttons.
Push the A button once. Or hold it down. Push the button multiple times in a row. Press Button A with Button B. There are so many other ways to make changes with these buttons.
Maybe that was why the Super Family Development Team faced a lot of difficulty at my suggestion of a six-button system.
Back then, it was a time when the idea of pushing several buttons at once was unfathomable. Even computers didn’t allow us to type several things at the same time.
The fact that the idea was difficult to fathom was understandable.
“All right, fine. How much do you want?”
“Leave the console margin at its lowest price, director. Where did you get the idea of receiving royalty from cartridges through marketing?”
“I got it from Zillet, the razor company. They use a loss leader marketing plan where they sell regular razors at a cheaper price but get all their profit with the blades they sell.”
“Thanks to that, your profits have increased by selling cartridges, right? I was reading the papers the other day and saw that the company ranked within tenth place among Japan’s best businesses.”
“I won’t deny it. I made a big enough profit enough to make up for all the past failures just with this console business.”
“You’ve probably already made hundreds of billions for the past five years, but you only think about your failures.”
“Look, kid. Money is something you need to hold on to while you can. And hold it tight.”
“Director, how much money are you planning on using for the rest of your life?”
“If we were to make an estimation of a person who lives about however they want their entire life, how much would they use? Ten billion? A hundred billion? Of course, the amount would increase based on one’s greediness, but what if an ordinary person used the money to enjoy their free time, sleep and eat, wouldn’t ten billion be enough? Personally, ten billion would be more than enough for me.”
“What are you trying to tell me?”