Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 13, 2015

Iwata the Game God

Satoru Iwata has passed away. Here is the link.

I am not a fan of the term ‘game god’. It implies some developer has become an ‘angel’ and lords over everyone else as ‘worshipers’ of their ‘vision’. The most important entity in the gaming equation is the gamer. But with Satoru Iwata, he was a Game God. He was a game developer. He programmed HAL games and classic Nintendo games. He also understood the business sense of gaming. Gaming, itself, is a very difficult business. This is the reason why Yamauchi picked Iwata to succeed him.

Iwata was not just a passing CEO figure that many companies go through. His statements was a large part of why I began listening closely to the business side of Nintendo.

It was Iwata who said, “The only person who has the right to be selfish is the customer.”

It was Iwata who said, “The programmer does not get to tell the designer what the game cannot do.”

It was Iwata who heralded the revolution. None of us really know what goes on inside Nintendo and its inner workings. But it is clear that Iwata was a big factor behind the DS and Wii. I love Iwata standing before game developers telling them that things need to change. I loved his Heart of the Gamer speech.

Above is Iwata revealing the Revolution controller to the world. “I was greeted with silence,” Iwata remarked later on. “It’s like the crowd didn’t know how to react.” They didn’t!

Above is Iwata telling us about the Revolution.

While others are doing ribbons and other various things, I think it is best to put the spotlight on Iwata’s integrity when it came to gaming. From the business side to developer side, he wasn’t shaped by events but shaped them.

Honestly, I’m so shocked by the news that I cannot summon up words to say things. Anything I imagine I could say would seem so inadequate. It’s all such a damn shame.

When I think of Iwata, I think of class. I have read nearly every word Iwata has said to the public for almost a decade. Never did he say anything disparaging of another, never did he sound pessimistic, and never did he crap on anyone. As gamers, Iwata represented the best things we loved about Nintendo. But as a businessman, he represented the best things about business.

Why does it feel that we lost a friend today?


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