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 gaming industry suffered a huge blow on Sunday when Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away at the way-too-young age of 55. Better people than I have put together some wonderful write-ups on the man already, so I'll try and keep this brief.
Whenever Nintendo put together a Nintendo Direct, there would be three people that I would look forward to seeing: Reggie Fils-Amie, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Satoru Iwata. They are all very important corporate figures in gaming, yet you can tell that there is a certain wonder about the business they are helping shape and move forward. You can tell they love what they're doing and that they truly are gamers. This was especially true of Iwata as, whether he was dressing up as Luigi or "fighting" Reggie, you could tell he was having fun doing this.
The contributions of Miyamoto to the gaming industry are well known. The man created Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, and Pikmin. If you have ever picked up a controller or held a joystick, there's a very good chance that you've played one of his games. While Iwata doesn't have a resume that includes some of the most recognizable faces in games, his contributions are no less significant.
As a programmer at HAL Labs before being hired full-time at Nintendo, Iwata helped develop some NES classics like Balloon Fight and Open Tournament Golf, the cult-hit Earthbound on the SNES, and Super Smash Bros on N64. Possibly his greatest contribution there was a lovable little pink puffball known as Kirby. While still working at HAL, Iwata assisted in the development of Pokémon Gold/Silver and Pokémon Stadium. When he became Nintendo president in 2002, the company was struggling with lagging sales of the GameCube and Game Boy Advance. With his guidance, the company introduced its two best selling video game systems of all time, the Nintendo DS and Wii.
It's rare that a corporate president doubles as the well-loved face of the company, but Satoru Iwata was that man. Rest in peace, Iwata-san; a shrewd businessman, a talented developer, but a gamer at heart.
One last time...