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The "rival" who helped Reggie Fils-Aimé become a Muppet
Don't believe what you see on YouTube, Reggie Fils-Aimé says — there's no real rivalry between him and The Game Awards founder Geoff Keighley.
Here’s the fourth and final* segment from last Friday’s episode with Reggie Fils-Aimé, the former president and COO of Nintendo of America. Reggie’s new memoir is Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo.
* Our supporters on Patreon have access to dozens of bonus follow recommendations that have not appeared in the public podcast feed, including one from Reggie!
Donate any amount at Patreon.com/followfriday to hear him talking about a fifth great follow recommendation: Author and executive advisor Roger L. Martin.
ERIC: We have time for one more follow today. Reggie, I asked you for someone you've followed forever, and you said Geoff Keighley, who is on Twitter @geoffkeighley.
Geoff is a big media figure in the video game world. You have spent a lot of time with him over the years at various industry events. Do you remember at this point, how did you two first meet?
REGGIE: We first met over lunch as Nintendo was preparing to launch the Nintendo DS. And just as we are talking about Kara and others who interview individuals, Geoff came into that conversation with a lot of skepticism, but wanting to learn more about what we were doing with this dual-screened game platform and how we were looking to revolutionize the industry.
We had a very… I don't want to call it contentious, but it was a back and forth conversation where he would be asking me questions. And this was off the record, it was a background type of conversation, but he was pushing and he was probing, and I was pushing right back.
For me, what I took from that conversation is someone who absolutely is passionate about gaming. Someone who really was being thoughtful around the challenges for launching new systems and bringing new content to bear, but also someone who is willing to listen and willing to hear out an alternative point of view. And that was the beginning of our relationship.
We went on to do many, many televised interviews. He went on to work with me on creating some content during my time at Nintendo. Some of the best-known Nintendo skits and things of that nature, he had a role in helping to shape and bring to bear. So he's someone who I, again, I consider a friend and have spent quite a bit of time on.
He himself has helped me as I've gone on my journey after Nintendo. I often get asked, "How did you get the @reggie handle?" And he was a help as I contacted folks at Twitter to try and get that handle. So he's a good friend and someone I put on my personal board of advisors to float ideas on.
ERIC: Well, when you search your two names on YouTube, you get a clip called "The Dorito Pope and Regginator Rivalry." It starts off with a clip of I think you beating him at Wii Sports, and then there's a bunch of clips of him asking you challenging questions about Nintendo's business at these various industry events.
Has there ever been a point in this decade-plus of knowing him where it has felt like a rivalry, where it has felt more contentious or was that always, like we were saying earlier, just a function of him being a journalist?
REGGIE: I don't believe there's a rivalry. And even when you talk about being contentious, again, his job is to ask the tough questions. I remember this was during the launch of Wii U. Wii sold over a hundred million units globally and had some iconic software associated with the platform, Wii Sports being one of the best-known.
We were launching Wii U, and again, being a journalist, he was challenging some of the content that we were bringing to bear. And there's a great clip of me telling Geoff, "Play the games. You're being negative. You have all of these perspectives, play the game. Play the game!"
So that became another meme out there: Me telling Geoff that he just needs to play our games before having a point of view. So it really is a relationship based on respect. It's based on each of us doing our jobs.
Now he's asked me every year to be on the show he produces, The Game Awards, to present various categories and to be part of that show. So it really is a deep relationship based on respect, not a rivalry.
ERIC: The Game Awards is streamed online. It's both an awards show for games and it's also a place where a lot of new titles get announced. It's sort of also a marketing thing for a lot of game studios.
What is it like working with Geoff behind the scenes, both on Game Awards or on the skits you mentioned for Nintendo Direct? What is that collaboration process like?
REGGIE: Geoff is incredibly creative himself, and comes up with unique and novel ideas. But he's also incredibly connected. We did a skit — must have been 2015, where myself, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Satoru Iwata were puppets. Muppets. This was done by the Jim Henson company and our characters transformed into characters for a Star Fox game: Very innovative. My puppet reprises a number of memes…
So, Geoff not only helped conceptualize the concept, but introduced us to the Jim Henson company. Mr. Miyamoto loves puppetry, so he was very excited to do this little skit.
That's just a small example of Geoff's creativity and his connections that helped so many of these moments come to life.
ERIC: Well, that was Geoff Keighley, who is on Twitter @geoffkeighley.
If you have a favorite YouTube video that Reggie or Geoff has been in, I'd love to watch it. Tweet us @followfridaypod or send an email to email@example.com.