In a rather shocking and sad piece of news, Nintendo released a brief statement this morning saying that the Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has passed away at the age of 55.
“Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.”
Nintendo, who had recently shown a rather full turn around on their stance with same-sex marriage in their games, will now be missing a key element. Iwata had been at the company for numerous years, even if he had only served as CEO and president since June 2013.
Iwata had not been in good health for some time, and did not attend E3 due to advice from his Doctor that he shouldn’t travel overseas. He then underwent surgery for his bile duct growth, which even then was acknowledged as potentially difficult to treat.
Iwata oversaw the introduction of two of Nintendo’s biggest successes, the Nintendo DS and the massively successful Wii. The Wii was an absolute game changer in a lot of ways, and while motion control as a whole hasn’t really taken off, that doesn’t change the fact that the Wii brought a whole new generation of gamers in who probably would have never been interested otherwise.
He was well known for his personality, and cultivated a relationship with the gaming community with his Q & A, Iwata Asks. He also later became the forefront of the Nintendo Direct streams, in which he directly spoke to millions of gamers about their new games. He had also shown love and passion for gaming, one such notable time was when he spoke at the 2005 Game Developer’s Conference, regarding his time at the studio HAL Laboratory.
“People sometimes ask me what I did when I was hired at HAL. The answer is that I was a programmer. And an engineer. And a designer. And I marketed games. I also ordered food. And I helped clean up. And it was all great fun.”
But, the quote I love most from Iwata, is this one, which just sums up his love and passion for games and gamers alike: “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.”
The loss of Iwata will truly be felt my everyone, not only those who worked closely with him at Nintendo, but also by anyone who has ever been a lover of Nintendo games. Where the company will go from here, I don’t know, but I think this is one of those rare times that a sometimes fractured community can come together, just to say: We will miss you, Iwata. Rest in peace.