Reggie explains why he never learned Japanese, the origins of 'my body is ready,' and what he misses about working at Nintendo
The last week+ has been Reggie overload, bringing us tons of details, insight, and anecdotes from Nintendo of America’s former president. We’ve heard a bunch of details about Reggie and his job that we never knew before, and those kind of details keep trickling in.
In an interview with Polygon, Reggie opens up about why he never learned Japanese while working with Nintendo. Simply put, it turns out he had more important things to do.
Early in my time at Nintendo I asked the question, “Should I learn Japanese?” And I was given the counsel, “Look, Reggie, we need you to focus on other things. The business is in tough shape. You’re bringing commercial knowledge from sales and marketing and advertising, that is just so critical for us. That’s where we need you to focus. And we’ll figure out the communication in a different way.”
And so, you know, a number of key executives do speak and understand English, many extraordinarily well. But I did not learn Japanese. And so it meant any of the large group meetings were in this sequential translation. And it forced me to be very thoughtful in my verbal communication. And, you know, when you think about it, we have so many idioms, and we have so many slang words [that] we, I learned, I had to cut all of that out, I had to be as clear and concise as possible, I needed to be very persuasive in my language in order to move things forward. So it’s certainly something I had to be aware of in all of these communications. And I did that, regardless of being in a situation where the simultaneous or the sequential translation was happening. Or if I was in a meeting with Mr. Iwata or Mr. [Shigeru] Miyamoto, who understood and spoke some English, I would need to be similarly clear and use words that they would understand.
Reggie also shared the story of how his famous “my body is ready” line came to be, and the origins might surprise you a bit!
So it’s, it’s all the same, it’s all the same person, it’s all the same desire to win out in the marketplace. A lot of the memes, you know, they were, they were a fortunate turn of phrase that happens. When you’re doing hours and hours of rehearsals, you practice different things. And, you know, “My body is ready” was a line that I used in the rehearsal with Mr. Miyamoto for the Wii Fit demo in 2007. I tried a number of lines beforehand. That one made him chuckle during rehearsals, so I decided to use it live. But, you know, so many of the memes were just fortunate moments in time.
Reggie spent over 16 years working at Nintendo, so it was a major part of his life. Moving away from his position at the Big N has meant a major shift for Reggie both inside and out of the workforce. Now that he’s been gone from Nintendo for roughly 3 years, what does Reggie miss most?
The biggest thing I miss is that today, I’m like any other fan. And what I mean by that is, all of the initiatives and products that were in the pipeline — not all of them, the vast majority of them — have reached the marketplace at this point. And so I am like any other fan, waiting to be surprised, waiting to hear the next new big idea coming from Nintendo. What I miss is being on the inside and being able to help shape those ideas. I miss that a lot.