Beyond Dark Souls – The Private Life Of From Software's Hidetaka Miyazaki
Dark Souls and Bloodborne series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki is a busy man. He not only directs multiple projects simultaneously, he also is president of developer From Software. With so much work to do and games to create, what does Miyazaki do with his precious little free time? We asked him during our trip to Tokyo for our Dark Souls III cover story.
Miyazaki joined From Software as a developer in 2004, eventually helping direct the Armored Core series. By 2009 he had lead credits on Demon's Souls, a title that eventually became a cult hit and the point of origin for Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Demon's Souls' deliberate combat, brutal enemy encounters, and deadly, mysterious world captivated players. Miyazaki was promoted to president of From Software in 2014 - just 10 years after joining the company. His rise through the video game industry has earned the man much well-documented praise, even though he's very mindful to avoid stepping into the spotlight.
"I personally don't feel there is a value to me presenting the games I create," Miyazaki says. "I feel the value in me is with the games I develop, and that is something I would like people to experience, but other than the game I develop, there is very little value in me and so I tend to avoid presenting myself. I feel that the best means of expressing myself is by having players play my games, and not being very good at carrying out presentations, I try to refrain as much as possible."
A screenshot from Demon's Souls, the game that put Miyazaki on the map
By Miyazaki's account, he lives a very humble life both inside and outside of his demanding job.
"I'm absolutely an indoor person, so [I spend my free time] playing games, reading books, or cooking," Miyazaki says when asked what he does in his free time. "I play all sorts of video games. Open-world RPGs and simulation games are ones that I play the most. I'm not too good at RTSs, but Civilization is also something I play often."
Miyazaki's passion for reading is life-long, extending from his time poring over library books at a young age. Even though he couldn't read all the English stories of dark fantasy and horror, he created his own personal narratives to stitch together the excerpts he could understand. However, between leading From Software and directing the company's biggest games, Miyazaki doesn't have much time for reading. He doesn't seem too bothered by the fact, either.
"I only have a few opportunities to take a day off, but aside from being president [of From Software], game design is actually my personal hobby," Miyazaki says. "So if the company [continues to ask] me to work on game designs, I'll definitely work on that forever."
Hints of Miyazaki's non-video game interests are spread around his office, which we spotted during a tour of From Software. A handful of Magic: The Gathering cards are scattered across his table. A Dungeons & Dragons paperback guide is wedged underneath a computer monitor. A copy of the Lovecraftian board game Arkham Horror sits next to dozens of other table-top games. For anyone who has fought one of the Souls series' many dragons or battled Cthulu-like monstrosities in Bloodborne, Miyazaki's personal collections come as no surprise.
Hidetaka Miyazaki (left) and his translator share a laugh during our interview
Speaking of tabletop and card games, we asked Miyazaki if he had any interest in creating a playable Dark Souls experience outside the video game realm. "Of course," Miyazaki says. "However, if I were to take part in such project such as card games or tabletop RPGs, this would be the only thing I would work on, and I have been specifically ordered by our previous president to not work on this until I have retired. I would definitely like to see the Dark Souls IP on different media such as board games, etc. I will probably not be involved in the process, but I personally like having the IP expand to other media and look forward to unique ideas going forward."
Cooking is one of the few non-gaming passions Miyazaki is able to regularly practice while at home. "In daily life, cooking only takes like two or three hours, so that is still doable in everyday life," he says. "Some hobbies that require a certain number of days off are very tough to do."
"When I cook, I'm usually alone, and cook for myself," Miyazaki says, when asked if he prefers to play chef for himself or while entertaining guests. "It's like playing an RPG. I like cooking by taking time, paying attention to all details, gathering the proper equipment, and taking all steps necessary to create something great. The more time and care that is spent, the better the food becomes."
Miyazaki's favorite meal to prepare is curry rice, a Japanese staple that blends rich, savory curry sauce and vegetables with fluffy jasmine rice. He also enjoys slowly stewing food, an extension of his philosophy that things worth enjoying take proper time to prepare - something to keep in mind the next time you're feeling impatient about Dark Souls III releasing next year.
Catch up on our month of exclusive Dark Souls III content by visiting our hub via the link below. It includes a full playthrough of Dark Souls, additional interviews with Miyazaki, and hands-on impressions with Dark Souls III.