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Nintendo President Satoru Iwata Has Died

July 12, 2015 Written by Heath Hindman

Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo Co., Ltd., poses after Nintendo's E3 presentation of their new Nintendo 3DS at the E3 Media & Business Summit in Los Angeles

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has died at the age of 55, the company has confirmed with a very brief statement.

Mr. Iwata had a tumor in his bile duct, for which he recently underwent surgery, but the operation seems to have done little to help. He had missed both E3 2014 and 2015 due to health issues.

You’ll be seeing this all over game discussion forums and social media, for good reason. Iwata was an undeniable standout in the industry. You can say what you will about your feeling toward certain Nintendo games, but Iwata wasn’t afraid to follow his heart.

“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.”

-Satoru Iwata

Iwata started his career as a designer and programmer with HAL Laboratory, a game developer owned by Nintendo. He had a hand in unique, quirky titles such as EarthBound and the Kirby series. An incredible coder, team members say he pretty much re-built EarthBound by rewriting tons of code, which made the game run much more smoothly. He’d later go on to help with Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Mario, and The Legend of Zelda in various capacities.

He was a driving force behind the creations of both the Nintendo DS and Wii, both of which featured innovative approaches to game hardware design.

iwatawithmariobros

In modern times, Iwata became known for his likeable personality. He was never afraid to poke fun at himself and always came off as an approachable guy — not the type you’d expect to have words like “President” before his name.

“But, I will tell you, we are already working on several Wi-Fi titles, each starring one of our key franchise characters. One or two Wi-Fi games will be ready for (Wii) launch. But I am pushing our teams to make sure Smash Brothers is one of them. That way, no matter where Reggie is, I can always beat him.”

-Satoru Iwata at E3 2005

Also uncharacteristic of presidents, Iwata took a huge pay cut in 2013. It was his own solution to a Nintendo financial dip. He wasn’t the type to fire people when there were other ways to get things done. When GameCube’s Super Smash Bros. Melee was a little buggy, Iwata rolled up his sleeves and got in there himself to code, program, and work out bugs before launch. How awesome is that?

Iwata was the type of person every industry needs more of — the kind of boss who is willing to drop things and work alongside the people he presides over. In his own field, he was a game company executive that understood and prioritized fun. At only 55, he is gone way too soon.

Rest in peace.