Few people have the ability to reach and impact millions of lives globally, yet many lives were enriched because Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata was born. Mr. Iwata had the brilliance, the passion, creativity, and leadership that elevated the gaming industry. However, Iwata-san is known to gamers worldwide as being one of us.
Within hours of the announcement that Satoru Iwata had passed on, the gaming industry poured out in tribute to such a giant of a figure. However, Iwata’s tenure as President of Nintendo is the only role many young gamers know him by, but his work before heading video gaming’s most iconic, and historically important company are what have enriched the lives of children and adults worldwide.
Personally, I will always be grateful to Iwata-san for his work on some of the games I grew up playing. Kirby, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, and the more obscure Balloon Fight are just some of the titles that the programmer-turned-president worked on that made me begin to love gaming. Millions of gamers enjoyed the creations that Satoru Iwata had a hand in making, and his passion to create fun experiences for fans around the globe is seen in every game that Nintendo releases.
Fun, unique experiences defined Iwata’s career, from the pink-puff Kirby, who absorbs the ability of those he eats, to the stylistic paint-spraying shooter Splatoon, Nintendo and its fans are better because Iwata-san strove to make gaming better.
“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 Iawata, Game Developer’s Conference 2005 Keynote
It’s Iwata’s passion for gaming that sticks with me. Not to allow the Pokemon franchise to be burdened by development issues, Iwata helped create the compression tools needed to allow for both the Johto and Kanto maps in Pokemon Gold/Silver. He did this while acting as an intermediary between Game Freak and Nintendo, both companies he wasn’t an employee of at the time. He was serving as President of HAL Laboratory. What President of a company would create and design tools for a game owned by another competing company today? None, probably. That’s just who Iwata was.
I’ll remember Satoru Iwata as the energetic CEO in the Nintendo Direct briefings, his passion and creativity clearly on display for the world to see. His double-hand gesturing never got old, even when it was a puppeteer doing the gesturing for him (see the Nintendo Digital Event @ E3 2015). Iwata brought his passion and energy for games directly to those who cared most: the gamers. This is the same CEO who took half his own salary to prevent workers being laid off at Nintendo when times were tough. This was a man to be celebrated for his own character, and not just those he helped bring to life.
In the end, Iwata worked right up till his death, heading Nintendo’s recent shareholders meeting at the end of June. His contributions to the gaming world will forever be seen each time we boot up our Nintendo systems. I am a gamer today because of what Satoru Iwata brought to the world.
Thank you Iwata-san. You will be forever missed by all those whose lives you impacted.
Have a memory about Satoru Iwata you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments below.