News of Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata's death has shocked the entire gaming industry, and millions of gamers mourn the death of a beloved industry leader whose expertise and love for gaming lit up the childhoods of so many.
In an industry that is getting more serious about competition, Satoru offered a fresh, lighthearted approach to gaming that captivated the hearts of many video game fans, while being able to turn around Nintendo's fortunes and bring back the ailing Japanese video game firm to profitability with the launch of the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U gaming consoles.
"At Nintendo, we do not run from risk. We run to it. We are taking the risk to move beyond current boundaries. It should be our goal, each of us, to reach the new players as well as the current players," Iwata said during his keynote address at the Game Developers Conference in 2006. "Our goal is to show them surprise. Our reward is to convince them that above all video games are meant to be just one thing: fun. Fun for everyone."
In a brief statement, Nintendo announced that Iwata has passed away on July 11 due to a tumor in his bile duct. The Nintendo chief's health issues were not unknown to the public, as Iwata himself wrote to shareholders in 2014 that he was undergoing surgery to have the growth removed. In October, Iwata said he had recovered his health enough to resume his duties as head of Nintendo.
Iwata was the fourth president of Nintendo in the company's 125-year history and the very first to be appointed from outside of Nintendo's Yamauchi founding family. His appointment has undoubtedly opened new avenues for Nintendo as Iwata turned the company around from a secretive family business unable to compete with Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox by improving gamers' accessibility to the company and himself being the very public, and oftentimes kooky, face of Nintendo.
Lately, Iwata started hosting Iwata Asks, a series of behind-the-scenes interviews that Iwata holds with game developers where fans get a glimpse into the future games that might be included in Nintendo's gaming systems. One of Iwata's latest projects was the development of games for mobile devices and a "new concept" that has remained under wraps for now.
Before being appointed as a director for Nintendo in 2000, Iwata worked as a programmer at HAL Laboratories, a Nintendo subsidiary, where his programming expertise has contributed to games such as "Balloon Fight," "EarthBound," "Kirby's Dream Land" and plenty of other titles in the Kirby franchise. He was also instrumental in the development of The Legend of Zelda and MarioKart games.
The gaming industry mourns the passing of a great man.
I met Satoru Iwata over a decade ago, prior to his Nintendo presidency. I was humbled by his good nature & passion. Rest in peace Iwata-san.
— Fran Mirabella III (@franmirabella) July 13, 2015
Satoru Iwata was a beacon of positivity and joy in gaming. His passion touched so many lives, and his legacy will never be forgotten. — A Man In White (@a_man_in_white) July 13, 2015
Satoru Iwata had only a few decades to change MILLIONS of lives for the better & he did it w/ humility, passion & love.
— Becks Hernandez (@ArchivistGeek) July 13, 2015
Just heard the news about Satoru Iwata's passing. I don't know what to say. He was a rare treat of an executive. Sleep well, Mr. Iwata. — Jim Sterling (@JimSterling) July 13, 2015
I'm at a loss upon hearing this immensely tragic news. Rest in peace, Satoru Iwata. The worldwide gaming community mourns.
— Tyler Malka (@NeoGAF) July 13, 2015
Farewell Satoru Iwata. You kept video games fun and playful when the industry was at its nastiest and most competitive. Thanks. — Dan Telfer (@dantelfer) July 13, 2015
R.I.P., Satoru Iwata. May you find Mushroom Kingdom in the heaven. pic.twitter.com/aYZtTkhTWo
— AirDroid.com (@AirDroidTeam) July 13, 2015
Life seemed like an awesome balloon trip for Balloon Fight programmer, Satoru Iwata. Happy flying. pic.twitter.com/jWUlfu3Wbu — Samuel_IGN (@Samuel_IGN) July 13, 2015
Farewell to the guy who created my childhood ... http://t.co/akeXSp4a1k
— ❁ Sari ❁ (@SariCrimsonRose) July 13, 2015
"On my business card, I am a corporate president...But in my heart, I am a gamer." - Satoru Iwata #Nintendo pic.twitter.com/CJBdWBELKQ — BasedGamer (@BasedGamerTeam) July 13, 2015
Photo: BagoGames | Flickr