Monday, July 13, 2015

Satoru Iwata - The Man That Gave Us Fun

The fan tributes to Mr. Iwata are coming in. A day has yet to pass and the Nintendo geeks of the world are paying their respects through art and literature. Nintendo's Japan headquarters pulled their company flag down to half-mass, and the fan photos came pouring in. Kotaku even posted about a rainbow being seen overhead HQ when the rest of the city was seeing rain clouds.

For a number of the younger fans, Reggie and Miyamoto are the kings of Nintendo. The puppets are proof of their influence. Mr. Iwata has been there, but more of the business man. We rarely got to see his fun side, though he has always been a gamer. He walked into Nintendo in the 1980's, asked for a job even though he had no programming skills, and taught himself. He has had his hand in developing and signing off on some of the biggest projects the company has ever created. Sure there were some not-so-great moments with the GameCube and the Wii-U. I'm still trying to decipher if the Wii-U is a console or a peripheral. But this man signed off on the Nintendo DS and the Wii. He did a number of things right, despite what the fan boys may tell you.

His influence in games was great, even though they were not recognized as often as the developer leads that make up Nintendo. His touches were here and there, and sometimes so big that we didn't realize he was the man behind the game. Brain Age is one such fine example. When the Nintendo DS first launched, many of the corporate higher ups were out and about, doing press conferences and trying to push for sales of the system. But Iwata was not one of them. Instead he was in Sendai, speaking with a professor to talk about the academic's popular brain exercise books. Five months later, we were introduced to Brain Age. It's the 10th most popular game in Nintendo's history, and has sold 19 million units world-wide.

His philosophy is simple, and one of the best: "Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone."

From that he helped build Nintendo into the brand that we all know. Because when you think of Fun, Nintendo is probably one of the first to come to mind. He has influenced Nintendo in ways we have, and have not seen. With a legacy to be honored, thanks for all the fun, Mr. Iwata.

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