Today is a dark day for video games. President of Nintendo Satoru Iwata has passed away at the age of 55. The statement Nintendo issued is short, and sad:
“Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.”
Where does one possibly start?
Iwata began his career at the HAL Laboratory, working on Balloon Fight, Earthbound and the Kirby games. In 1993 he was promoted to the president of HAL and assisted in the founding of Creatures Inc., well known for producing the Pokémon games. Iwata became president in Nintendo in 2012 after Hiroshi Yamauchi retired, and helped revitalise the company. Iwata helped make the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii become two of the biggest selling gaming platforms on the market.
And now he’s gone.
You can search Wikipedia for a list of things that Satoru Iwata did, and they are amazing things; but what did the man mean? You can’t think of Iwata without smiling. The man knew his fans, knew his company, and knew his own heart.
“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” – Satoru Iwata, 2005
Iwata had one soul philosophy when it came to video games: Video games should be fun for everyone. In an industry that seems set on being ‘epic’, or talking about the ‘realism’ of their product, Iwata always focused on the innocent, noble endeavour that video games could be fun for everyone.
And he spoke to everyone. The start of Nintendo Direct, the online presentations where Nintendo made announcements, was Iwata’s way of talking directly to the people that loved his games – skipping past the media with videos that were goofy, and heartfelt. And weird too – the last E3 conference had a muppet version of Iwata, Regie Fils-Amie and Shigeru Miyamoto opening their presentation. But you could feel the sincerity.
The man cared. Following a 30% slump in profit at the end of 2013, Iwata cut his pay in half in order to avoid letting any of his employees go. Cut from the top to avoid layoffs at the bottom. There are few that would be so humble.
And for me, personally – I can feel his absence. Writing this now, I cast my eyes around my room at my Gameboy Colour, my 3DS, box full of Nintendo video games; I’ve given so many hours, days, possibly years of my life over to Nintendo since I got an original Gameboy at the age of five, with the first two Super Mario game cartridges. Soon after, I received my first Pokémon game, a franchise that I’ve put approximately 1000 hours into (300 of those went into Pokémon Emerald alone). I’ve made friends over a shared love of Iwata’s creations; my life is, in part, a piece of Iwata’s legacy.
I hate tributes. They’re so fucking useless. What more is there to be said? How can such sadness be put into words?
Thank you, Satoru Iwata. Rest in peace.
— NoMoreBandage3 (@NintendoBandage) July 13, 2015
Adam Smith, Gamer.