Crispy Gamer

CG Interview: Bill Trinen, aka Miyamoto's Translator

Don't miss our exclusive interview with Shigeru Miyamoto -- read it here.

You cannot talk to Miyamoto-san without Nintendo's Bill Trinen. Trinen, a product marketing manager for Nintendo, is fluent in Japanese. In his 10th year at Nintendo, Trinen travels with Miyamoto in North America and translates for him wherever he goes.

Truth be told, there are other translators that Nintendo has hired from time to time to work with Miyamoto, but it's Trinen who's far and away the most recognizable of the group. (He was by Miyamoto's side during his packed-house keynote at the Game Developers Conference in 2007.) We asked Trinen what it's like to spend 10 hours a day with Miyamoto.

Crispy Gamer: Have you guys become friends?

Bill Trinen: We have. We talk about his kids. I always get the update on how they are doing. Most of the time when we're doing press junkets, schedules are really packed, so there isn't a lot of downtime between sessions. But on this trip to New York we actually wrapped up early. We hit several museums together, and then went to a show.

Crispy Gamer: So, what did you see? "Xanadu"? "Beauty and the Beast"?

Trinen: We went to the Whitney, then we walked through Central Park, then we went to the MoMA. They have an interesting exhibit on innovation going on right now. At night we saw "Jump." It was quite humorous. I laughed a lot, more than I was expecting to. [Miyamoto-san] enjoyed it quite a bit as well?

Crispy Gamer: Is he taking notes while he's on these trips? Gathering any information for some secret project?

Trinen: I don't think he's a note-taker in terms of gathering information. He just kind of locks things away in his mind. But definitely, the purpose of the Friday trip was partially that Mr. Miyamoto wanted to go to some museums. Mr. Iwata [Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's President and CEO] also instructed the PR group to make time for him to do some things that, you know, might inspire his next game.

Crispy Gamer: You guys ever game together? You know, get some Wi-Fi action going on the DS or something?

Trinen: Well, usually when we do, it'll be at E3 when we're getting ready for a presentation, or on the show floor, when we're looking at stuff.

Crispy Gamer: But you never do it for pleasure?

Trinen: No. No. I would feel bad if I did that, because he stays pretty focused on his work.

Crispy Gamer: Do you ever pull him aside and say, "Now listen, man, people are tired of finding the boomerang in the first dungeon of every damn Zelda game?"

Trinen: [laughs] I don't hesitate to share my ideas with Mr. Miyamoto, if that's what you're asking.

Crispy Gamer: And he listens to you?

Trinen: I don't know.

Crispy Gamer: Well, does he appear to listen to you?

Trinen: I'll say this: Sometimes one of my ideas will pop up in a game, and I never know if it's because I've said it, or because my ideas were simply part of the group of good ideas that had been said months, or years, before they finally came to fruition. If I had to guess, I'd say it's more of the latter rather than the former.