In Remembrance of Satoru Iwata

Jul 15, 2015

On Sunday night, Nintendo announced that Satoru Iwata, President of the company, died of "a bile duct growth" on July 11, 2015. It was well known that Iwata's health had been an issue of late, as his surgery relating to this same growth caused him to miss E3 the last 2 years.

I obviously never knew Mr. Iwata, but I always sensed that he cared about his core audience for more than just financial reasons. Here was a man who grew from a programmer at HAL Laboratories to the eventual President of Nintendo LTD and the CEO of Nintendo of America. One story that came out fairly recently was that despite being an executive at Nintendo at the time, he went back to help HAL finish programming Super Smash Bros. Melee so that it could make it's debut before the holiday season ended in 2001. He also worked on the Kirby franchise and helped out with the SNES cult classic Earthbound.

Iwata was president during some of Nintendo's best (Wii, DS) and worst (Gamecube, Wii U) times. He was well known for finding ways to open the inner workings of the company up to outsiders, with his "Iwata Asks" pieces on Nintendo's website, and for hosting many of the Nintendo Direct videos that were used as announcement pieces in recent years. He worked hard to remain humble and in touch with his customers, taking a massive pay cut when the Wii U failed to live up to expectations.

(If you're interested in checking out some of his works from the Iwata Asks series, click here.

His name will never draw the kind of recognition that Shigeru Miyamoto or even Reggie Fils-Aimé have, but I still think he was a significant figure for Nintendo and for gamers at large. There are plenty of people on Twitter relaying stories or announcing that they're going to go play a game he made a contribution to as a tribute; if I still had a copy of Melee that'd be what I'd be doing right now. Instead, I'm going to leave you with a quote from the man himself dating back to the Game Developer's Conference from 2005.

"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."

You can watch the entirety of that speech below. It is Iwata at his most passionate, not only about Nintendo, but about gaming as a whole. We will remember him not only for his many amazing contributions to Nintendo, but for his dedication to making games and the love he put into them.

Ben Mayer