Today I want to talk about someone very special to me. He’s been a source of inspiration and motivation, and even though I never got the chance to meet him, his leadership and kindness have had a tremendous impact on my life.
I’m talking about Mr. Satoru Iwata, the late great president of Nintendo. Today marks five years since we lost him to cancer. It seems like it was just yesterday that I watched Mr. Iwata talk on stage about a revolution where both hardware and software would be designed so that barriers to entry for gaming would be removed entirely; everyone could play and have fun together. As he said, “Above all, video games are meant to just be one thing: Fun for everyone.”
We would get to know Mr. Iwata through the years through his appearances at E3, GDC, and Nintendo Directs. Nintendo Directs provided a way for Nintendo to connect with their fans more frequently than conferences. It is these Nintendo Directs that I have my most fond memories of Mr. Iwata. It was his way of making big announcements, and it was our glimpse of seeing just how much of a genuine spirit he had.
Behind the scenes, Iwata was well known for working on projects that were struggling in development, games like Pokémon Gold and Silver were saved thanks to Iwata stepping in with his technical mastery. You can check out these videos on how he saved Earthbound and Pokemon on YouTube.
Mr. Iwata proved he was not only gifted in programming. He also proved many times that he was a great leader. The perfect example of this is during the Wii U generation. Low sales of the Wii U caused the company to hemorrhage a ton of money. In an industry where most people at the top choose to layoff or fire hundreds of their staff so that stakeholders retain their share, Mr. Iwata (and Miyamoto) both took pay cuts to help the company get through the rough time, ensuring that that no one would be laid off.
It is rare to find a man so incredibly talented, successful, and yet humble and caring for others. When you do what you love and lead with empathy, it will have a lasting impact on people. He will always be a hero of mine.
“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.”
“If we continue down the same path as we have in the past, people may become tired of gaming.”
“We do not run from risk. We run to it. We are taking the risk to move beyond the boundaries of the game industry to reach new players and current players.”
“I’ve never once been embarrassed that children have supported Nintendo. I’m proud of it. That’s because children judge products based on instinct. Everyone wants to appeal to people’s instincts, but it’s not easy.”
“Above all, video games are meant to just be one thing: Fun for everyone.”
“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.”