Truly devastating news in the world of gaming today as Nintendo have reported that President, the legendary Satoru Iwata has passed away. He was 55.
The small statement posted today (July 12) informs that Mr. Iwata died of a bile duct growth.
He leaves behind a truly incomparable legacy.
Iwata had to miss last year's E3 due to poor health, undergoing surgery shortly afterwards to remove the growth. A little while later he announced on Twitter that he was 'progressing well.'
A hugely popular figure in the gaming industry, Mr. Iwata joined Nintendo's HAL Laboratory in the 1980s and worked on titles such as Earthbound and Balloon Fight, becoming company director in 2000. Only two years later, he was announced as the fourth President of Nintendo, succeeding Hiroshi Yamauchi.
It's been announced that Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto will stand in as acting President, a role I'm sure he never wanted under these circumstances.
During his time in the role, Mr. Iwata oversaw mixed generations of success in Nintendo, the strongest being the Wii/DS generation and the weakest being the Gamecube era. More recently, he's become somewhat of a cult figure as the host of Nintendo Direct programs, the company's videos informing fans of updates.
Among the many, many reasons why Iwata was such an icon for Nintendo fans and gaming fans in general is because when the company was struggling in 2013, he didn't fire a single employee. Not one. Instead, he took a MASSIVE pay cut to ensure the company stayed afloat. This was a man who cared more about Nintendo and its fans than we perhaps give him credit for.
Whilst it's difficult at this time to really encapsulate the legacy Mr. Iwata really leaves behind, there's no getting around the fact he is perhaps one of the most important figures in the history of the gaming industry, having hands in the creation of some of our most beloved franchises including Zelda, Mario, Kirby, and Animal Crossing (a game which made this writer miss a flight home due to focusing far too much attention on what colour his living room walls should be).
On a personal level, it's important to note that my childhood, and subsequent adulthood would not be what it was without the work of Satoru Iwata. I played his work religiously and loved every minute, reaffirming my belief that nobody out there does it quite like Nintendo. Mr. Iwata understood that at its very core, games -- gaming -- was meant to bring enjoyment. And to bring families together. Nobody does this better than Nintendo, and it's thanks to Mr. Iwata that we can play these wonderful games and remember why we do it in the first place.
Mr. Iwata brought so much joy to so many. He taught the industry it didn't have to be so joyless, so disconnected. The light that shines brightest in gaming is Nintendo's, it was Iwata that flipped that switch.
Our heart goes out to the friends, family and colleagues of Mr. Iwata.
Mr. Iwata, I have so many smiles to thank you for, I simply don't know where to begin. I'll leave the final words to the man himself.
“Trust your passion, believe in your dream. For 25 years, game developers have made the impossible possible. So I ask you, why would we stop now?......Video games are just meant to be one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone".