It’s a shame that the piece of news that kickstarted my revival of this blog is such a harsh one.
Satoru Iwata, President and CEO of Nintendo has passed away, aged only 55.
Mr Iwata started out as a games developer for HAL Laboratories, working on the Kirby, Pokémon and Smash Bros franchises. He also programmed the classic Balloon Fight for NES. After many years he was promoted to CEO, taking the reins from the late Hiroshi Yamauchi, and becoming the first person outside the Yamauchi family to run the company in its one hundred and twenty-six year long history. He guided Nintendo through the launches of two of the most successful pieces of games hardware ever made in the DS and Wii. But he never lost touch with his development roots, reportedly getting involved with programming right up until 2012’s Nintendoland on WiiU (He helped tweak the code for the Balloon Fight mini-game).
In his own words he said “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.” It was a philosophy that translated directly to his interaction with fans of Nintendo. While his opposite numbers at Sony and Microsoft were standing out on stage at E3 in trying to hype up their latest AAA blockbuster, Iwata was being turned into a Muppet, an Adult Swim cartoon, sparring with Nintendo of America COO Reggie Fils-Aimé and most importantly of all, talking “Directly” to the people buying Nintendo games. He brought a sense of fun and joy to an industry that so often seems these days to be embarrassed by that.
So it’s with a heavy heart that I wish his family, friends and colleagues all the best. One of the brightest lights in the gaming industry has blinked out. His legacy is one of both joy and happiness, which few can argue is a beautiful one.
Video from Eurogamer.net