Gunpei Yokoi was involved with many projects at Nintendo on both the hardware and software front back in the day. But around the time that the unsuccessful Virtual Boy launched, Yokoi left the company. As it turns out though, that system’s failure wasn’t a direct cause of his departure.
Yokoi wrote about leaving Nintendo in the November 1996 issue of Japanese magazine Bungeishunju. Livedoor recently republished his piece, which gives us a chance to hear from him directly.
Kotaku offers the following translation:
“After over thirty years, I left Nintendo. After graduating from university, I was at Nintendo the entire time working on playthings, but at the 55-year-old juncture, I thought about working at a job that would allow me even more freedom with my ideas.”
“The day before I retired [from Nintendo], The Nikkei did a big feature on me. In reality. I did not resign to ‘take responsibility for the Virtual Boy’s failure.’”
“Since before that, I was thinking that when I turned 55, I wanted to become independent.”
“To put it another way, I came up with a lifetime of ideas and continued making playthings. To continue tweaking Nintendo’s corporate philosophy of ‘niche-type playthings’ – that’s the only reason I resigned.”