Video gaming companies may not be the first place you’d look for inspiration about problem-solving in business, but we can learn a lot from Nintendo. Nintendo’s designers, like the people who create products for any company, must know their customers (or “players”) well, design products that are both attractive and satisfying for those customers, and then continuously innovate to bring those customers back.

One of Nintendo’s legendary creators, Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Mario), has developed a set of wise problem-solving philosophies that have made Nintendo one of the leading innovators in gaming. Let’s examine two of these design philosophies and how they can impact our campaigns and solutions for customers:

A good idea is something that does not solve just one single problem, but rather can solve multiple problems at once.” – Shigeru Miyamoto

Solve multiple problems with one solution

Mario is defined by his infamous “jump.” It was a game mechanic that was designed to be utilized in a myriad of ways: He can jump across ledges, leap onto enemies and smash blocks containing glorious mushrooms. With Mario, you need to reach the end of the level, and this simple idea (the jump) is your ticket to success. As a designer, I take this philosophy with me into any project. It’s my job to create solutions that address both the needs of the clients as well as the concerns of the customer. For a landing page, for instance, our clients need a page that showcases their product and leads customers to take an action. It’s my job to create a design that provides the audience with the necessary information, has a relevant structure that’s compelling and easy to explore, and ultimately leads customers to act. A single landing page must solve all of those problems at once, meeting the concerns of the client and the needs of their customers. When exploring solutions to your problems or those of your customers, look for simple, versatile ways to address multiple problems with one solution.

“We get the fundamentals solid first, then do as much with the core concept as our time and ambition will allow” – Shigeru Miyamoto


Begin by asking what you want the user to do

Before making any characters, music choices, or overall aesthetics of a game, Nintendo first figures out the game’s basic mechanics. They ask themselves “What do we want players to do?” The answer provides the foundation on which everything else is based. When testing games, Nintendo forgoes the distraction of “actual characters,” and instead uses grey “placeholder characters” and non-descript environments – all for the sake of perfecting the game’s fundamentals. This design philosophy of “Form Follows Function” is a crucial element of designing problem-solvers. As a designer, asking myself what I want customers to do determines not only the overall aesthetic, but also the medium for showcasing it. With a landing page, before I explore designs, I make wireframes. This allows me to factor in any assets, messaging, or potential problems in order to perfect the page’s functionality. Throughout the wireframe process, I’m asking, “Does this page prompt the actions I want customers to take?” Everything else flows from the “fundamentals” of the wireframe. With any solution, start with the desired function or outcome, and then build upon that foundation. Your solution will be cohesive and grounded in the desired outcome, perhaps even leading to a better product than you’d originally envisioned.

Finding solutions to problems takes critical thinking, patience and dedication to giving your audience the very best. Now go out there, and give your players what they want.

Questions? Contact us. 

When exploring solutions to your problems or those of your customers, look for simple, versatile ways to address multiple problems with one solution.

About the Author

Darin Lammers

Interactive Designer

Somewhere between ‘debonair gent’ and ‘affable goof,’ Darin brings laughter and wit to his design work at 90octane – specializing in videography, animation and illustration.