(upbeat music) – [Narrator] Finding themaster sword in Zelda, bouncing on a Goomba in Mario, honing your skills in a duck hunt.
All things you probably did as a kid with your first Nintendo system.
For most of us, playinggames was a pastime.
But for one lucky man, this wasn't some hobby, it was his job.
1981 was a year of new frontiers.
In the U.
, a new decade oftechnology and pop culture was approaching, makingit a promising land for booming Japanese companies.
America had said hello to akitty a few years earlier, but it was a gorillathat stole the attention of the new generation.
Donkey Kong was Nintendo'sfirst big breakthrough in the western arcade scene.
The game helped the Japanesecompany climb its way up to America, eventuallyestablishing a new headquarter in Seattle, Washington, to bolster their hit.
This is the story of oneof their first employees who was soon to become a gaming legend.
– No! – [Narrator] This is Howard Phillips.
This is Howard Phillips' gaming jacket.
This is Howard Phillips'original 1989 Game Boy and this is how Howardstarted working at Nintendo.
– Kind of embarrassing.
I started at Nintendo in 1981.
It was really just the five or six of us.
I was the shipping warehouse manager.
My role was to bring inall of the arcade games and unload them and recordall the serial numbers and then pack them up for shipment.
– [Narrator] It doesn't sound like the greatest gig in the world, but working in the warehousecame with one pretty big perk.
– [Howard] I could play all the games.
Whenever a new game camein, I could open it up and plug it in and play it.
– [Narrator] But playing games could never be a full-time career, or could it? Nintendo of America was run by this man, Mr.
The company was looking tobreak into the U.
market but needed a little advice.
– The Japanese are very, veryattentive to the customer and the customer was king.
I was their, kind of, gateway into the U.
zeitgeist, I used to know what playersreally wanted to play.
– [Narrator] Why you, Howard? – Who knows why out ofthe few people working in the company at thetime that I got selected as being one of the more true voices.
I think it was just myenthusiasm for play.
You know, I’m a player's player, I love to play games.
I love to play at everything.
– [Narrator] In 1985, Nintendo was ready to move out from the arcade andinto the living room.
Arakawa said to me, “What do you think are the best games?” I played them all, and I said, “Mr.
Arakawa, these are the best 15 games.
” “Everybody will love these games.
” – [Narrator] And so thegame master was born.
– Howard Phillips, alsoknown as Mr.
It's his job to test everyNintendo game that comes out.
– What is a game master? It was really just afocus on what it means when a player meets agame, it's that connection.
– We were really looking for someone to represent the gamer and to speak directly to the gamer.
And Howard really fit the bill.
He was like a grownup, buthe was still like a kid.
He gave you the impressionmore of a character than a business person.
– [Howard] I think the connectionthat I had with players was that shared love of just gaming.
And then their mom or dad would show up and they would say, butthey're not educational or whatever the negativeassociation was that they wanted to put with video games and their child.
– It may be the mostaddictive toy in history: Nintendo video games.
– Is it turning their brains to mush? – Shame on people that produce that trash, it's child abuse, in my judgment.
– It was saddening to me that that's how parentsperceived their kids' joy as something that was maybe a negative.
– [Narrator] Video games had a bad rep, but Howard could see the positive effects that the games had on kids.
– It was a shared love of the experience of discovering something new or being really, reallyfrustrated at something but just trying and beingpatient and persistent, which is learning.
– [Narrator] And the playerswanted to learn more: more information, more tricks, more tips, and the game master was there to deliver.
– [Announcer] NintendoPower: your direct connection to the pros for better play.
The official magazine of video mastery.
For ordering information.
– [Howard] My role was to makesure that every single bit of information in that132 pages each month was accurate and spokein a way that the players wanted to understand and know about.
– [Narrator] But that wasn'tthe only role Howard played.
– When we were setting up all the columns in Nintendo Power, wethought it would be great to include a comic strip.
– [Howard] Howard andNester is just a cartoon that describes a child player who's always trying to getpast the next level in a game.
And Howard is the game masterwho knows everything about the games who can provide some tips.
– [Narrator] And Howard is you? – That's me.
Dear Howard Phillips, I am 12 years old and your biggest fan.
My friends and I read Nintendo Power.
You're the best in your business.
Your biggest fan with a capital B, bye.
The notoriety of being gamemaster really was crazy.
I would be pumping gas at the gas station, I would be buying potatochips at the supermarket, or I'd be at a movie andkids would come up to me and their parents would come up to me and say “Oh, you're the guy.
” – [Narrator] The guy whowas able to turn his passion for video games into a oncein a lifetime opportunity.
So Howard, what was the bestpart about being game master? – It was really fun tofulfill people's dreams, to shake the hand of some little kid and ask them about their favorite game and make them feel validatedlike they're smart and cool, so it was really fun.