Sakurai, the big man behind the Smash Bros. franchise, has been well noted as having a disorder that really hampers his ability to work, specifically with his right arm. Thankfully as a director he doesn't really need to do any code work and he does a lot of overseeing, which means his brilliant mind can still be at work in helping projects. However, a big part of his job has to do with play-testing, that way he can truly "feel" how progress is going and find issues with an experience. The problem right now is that since his right arm is practically unusable, he has to use his left and try and reach around the controller, and he notes this is specifically an issue when he tries to play-test Smash Bros. on the 3DS.

"I think the one word I've said the most this year, by far, is 'Ow!'" he wrote. "Not only am I getting calcific tendonitis, but they've also found what are apparently several ruptures in the muscles. My upper arm hurts, and there's this chronic dull pain in my elbow joint as well. On the lower arm, there's this feeling of fatigue around the flexor muscles that turns into pain when I use a keyboard or game controller with my fingers."

"There's no instant cure for it, so all I can do is either block the pain with injections or put my arm in a cast to keep the ruptures from spreading. I was told that the important thing was to keep my arm as rested as possible. In order to get it fully healed, the only thing is to not use my right arm or hand. So not only am I using a trackball with my left hand; now I'm using it to eat, brush my teeth, wash my hair, and even drive as much as I'm able to."
This definitely isn't good. Oh, what was all that about hindering Smash Bros. development?

 "As a director, I don't have much time in the weekdays to proceed along with my own work. The entire day is spent overseeing other people, holding meetings, working on other proposals, making visits elsewhere and so on. If I can get everything squared away, then I can work on my own stuff, but most of the time there's just an overwhelming lack of time. Often I go in on my off-days to catch up on my own work, but with my body going on me like this, I have to cut these extra days out of my schedule and even with that I can't use my right arm very much to control things. If this disorder lingers, or if it never gets fixed, there's no telling what impact that would have on the project."

"I've had to control two characters at once in a lot of game projects up to now, so as long as I keep it to simple moves, this works well enough. It doesn't go that easy with the Nintendo 3DS version, though, and the debug camera is pretty hard to control. Still, now I realize how important it is to have your health. I'm glad I'm still in good enough shape to work."

If that's good enough shape to work... then wow. You have to respect someone who is losing his health over what he does and the only possible cure for it right now is long-term rest. If it were me, that would mean taking a year or two off from the entire industry, but Sakurai appears way too dedicated to ever stick to a commitment like that. While he is still able to work and he is overcompensating with his left hand, Nintendo should definitely keep a close eye on him. Something tells me play-testing is something he is going to need some convincing to give up, because they need to worry about his long-term health first. You want this man making games for the next 15 years and retiring in good health, not working his ass off until his left arm starts getting affected and he is forced into early retirement without the use of his arms. 

Seriously, this isn't a joking matter. I have grown to respect him all the more for this, but he needs a break or an alternation to his workload so he his mind can work but his body can rest, because I would hate to lose his brilliance right now, and more importantly, have him suffer from serious issues in the long term.

Sorted Under: NewsWii U3DS
Tagged With: super smash bros.