Satoru Iwata, 1959-2015

I was genuinely saddened to learn today, as were many others, of the recent death of Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo. He definitely looked frailer over the past year or so but still it’s a big shock and a huge blow to the games industry. His contributions to the industry, particularly the Wii and DS in recent years can hardly be overstated, and will be discussed for many years still to come. Prior to his excellent leadership of Nintendo over the past ten years or so, he was a highly talented and successful programmer at HAL Labs who contributed greatly to the Kirby series, and later the Super Smash Bros series.

On a more personal level he was also always charismatic and endearing in interviews and press events. In his Iwata Asks interviews he always came across as genuinely enthusiastic about the craft of making games and the people making them. Perhaps the quality I always respected most about him apart from his sense of humour was his humbleness.

And with that I leave you with a short segment of Game Center CX featuring the man himself discussing and playing Balloon Fight, a game Iwata programmed. It gives some insight into the man as he talks a bit about how he got into the games industry in the first place, as well as his early programmer days.

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6 comments

  1. Red Metal

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when I received this news. Mr. Iwata will be missed. Earthbound was a troubled production and it was his efforts that saved the project from becoming vaporware. That is but one of his many great contributions to video game history.

    Rest in peace.

    • veryverygaming

      Thanks for that tidbit, that’s the first time I’ve heard it. Another story I heard recently was about him helping to debug Smash Bros Melee even though he was a fairly high ranking manager at Nintendo at the time.

  2. Sir Gaulian

    I had a mental blank for a minute on reading it, i couldn’t reconcile the name and person with the headline. It didn’t make sense. In a way i guess i hoped it wasn’t true.

    • veryverygaming

      Believe me, you’re not the only one. I had the exact same double take moment, and I also hoped it wasn’t true. It’s testament to Iwata’s personality and his professional impact on the industry that his death is upsetting to so many people who have never met him and would probably hardly blink at the news of any other CEO’s death. He was a great leader for the company and (judging from the Iwata Asks, of which I’ve read many) the coolest boss you could ever want!

  3. Matt

    Iwata always seemed like a cool and humble guy, as you have mentioned. Even though he had a lot of power inside the company, he was always fooling around and showing a legitimate goofy side. He will be missed!

  4. YvoCaro

    Like Sir Gaulian wrote, at first I couldn’t wrap my mind around what I was reading. There had been speculation before when he lost so much weight, and didn’t attend this years E3, but still, such a shock. I do hope Nintendo will keep on highlighting the quirky and sometimes downright funny in future. It’s what makes Nintendo dear to me.

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