RIP Satoru Iwata

Please understand, this is a sad day for fans of video games. Nintendo has announced that its president, Satoru Iwata, died of a bile duct growth on July 12, 2015. He was 55 years old.

Iwata had a hand in over a hundred beloved Nintendo titles from the NES era to the present, including Balloon Fight, EarthBound, Pokémon Gold & Silver, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He stated at the Game Developers’ Conference in 2005, in a quote that is already making the rounds: “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.” Many attributed his keen business acumen to his firsthand experience with programming and development, something evidently in short supply among CEOs. 

Iwata was also a paragon of executive integrity, taking significant pay cuts as penance for the botched launches of the 3DS and Wii U. He was set to take another one to help Nintendo compete in the mobile arena. Good luck finding an American CEO who would do such a thing.

Gamers regularly got their dose of Iwata through his “Iwata Asks” and Nintendo Direct video segments. In these videos, Iwata remained ever the consummate businessman, but he was also self-effacing, whimsical, wacky, bright, cheery, and believed wholeheartedly in every game, console, and feature he was selling. The world of video games suffers in the absence of his ebullient personality. One can only hope Nintendo will appoint a successor capable of carrying on his spirit of creativity and wonder.

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