As originally reported by Gamesindustry, Nintendo’s industrial designer Lance Barr is officially retiring and moving on to other projects. Barr joined Nintendo of America in 1982 part-time, and during his time with the company, he would be given the momentous task of designing the Nintendo Entertainment System. Nintendo didn’t think that the design of the Famicom would resonate with western audiences, so they tasked Barr with constructing a gaming system which would appeal to Americans. This job was a lot harder in the 1980s than it would be today, as video games had yet to become a real market in the west. At this point, the hardware behind video games simply wasn’t enough to draw in most US consumers, and western markets had developed a real distrust of the video gaming industry overall. This all changed, however, with the NES, designed by Lance Barr himself. Barr based his design off of hi-tech stereo equipment, aiming for a sleeker, more streamlined console, and it payed off in spades: The NES would go on to be one of the most beloved game systems in modern history, only to be surpassed by its’ immediate successor.
In 1990, the SNES would hit store shelves for the first time, making waves across the nation and officially cementing Nintendo as the top contender of the video game industry. So, how did Barr manage to give the system yet another miraculously profitable design? Well, yet again the console was being designed with a western audience in mind: One that Barr already knew how to produce for. To him, the Super Famicom (which the SNES was based off of) didn’t have the edge to make it in US markets, so his design would add that extra kick to make it a success. The rest is history: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System would become a landmark console, with millions of adoring fans sticking by it even to this day. All of this love and success can be attributed to the strong, sleek and intentional design of the console, all of which we all have Lance Barr to thank for.
Lance Barr would go on to design even more iconic Nintendo gear, including the Wii console, remote and nunchuck, but when asked, Barr said: “I always thought if I had the time, I would have liked to make the original NES even better.” Let’s all thank him for a truly amazing career helping to craft the industry we love, and wish him well for the future!