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Satoru Iwata’s Legacy is the “F-Word”

Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata leaves a legacy for all future video game presidents and CEOs.

Satoru Iwata is dead.

There’s no amount of tact or sugar-coating that will make that statement less severe. The President and CEO of Nintendo passed away yesterday, after fighting illness for the better part of 2 years. While on print this may not seem like anything more than the passing of a corporate suit for a major company, Satoru Iwata was also so much more.

Iwata’s legacy stretches far beyond hardware, like the Nintendo DS or the Wii. It doesn’t start or stop with Kirby or Earthbound. The impact of the change from press events to Nintendo Directs to deliver information looks like a hiccup to the megaton nuke that was his passion. You see, unlike many members of the corporate video game industry, Iwata wasn’t just a businessman, he was a dreamer and a gamer. The history books will record him as being exceptional in all 3 roles.

Mr. Iwata wasn’t made the 4th president of Nintendo because he had business savvy, which he had a track record for. It wasn’t because he was an exceptional programmer either, even though he basically reverse engineered Pokemon Red and Blue’s code to create Pokemon Stadium. It was because at his core, Iwata understood the dream of Nintendo. While so many executives in other camps worried about engagement rates and buyer turnover, he brought the f-word back to gaming.

nintendo_puppets_1.0Fun.

While so many company heads are basically interchangeable in the greater scale of the picture, Satoru Iwata was different. He was engaging and he was passionate about his company and their product. He had humility that you don’t see anymore in our industry. He understood that at the core of the games that we spend our hard-earned money on, we do it for enjoyment. We do it for fun.

The success of Iwata as president wasn’t the doubling of Nintendo stock with the Wii. It wasn’t the implementation of interactive handheld devices. Iwata’s success is that back in one of the darkest hours in the history of video games, Iwata understood exactly what his purpose was. 13 words were all that he needed to say back in 2006 and 8 years later it still rings true, “Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone!”

Rest in peace, Mr. Iwata, you left the video game industry, and the world, a better place than you found it.

Longtime games journalist and Florida resident. I'm a Guinness World Record holder, wordsmith extraordinaire, MOBA fan, devoted dad and husband. I'm here to spread the gospel of video games.

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