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Satoru Iwata Has Passed

We are all at a loss today. Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, is no longer with us. Nintendo officially released notice of his death today, noting that the sudden passing of the 55-year-old executive was the result of complications during surgery to remove a bile duct tumor. 


There are a lot of quotes and stories being exchanged in the world of gaming today. Many of the quotes are snappy and concise. Many of the stories are great testaments to Iwata's humility and character. However, we are all at a loss. There are no quotes, no stories, that can replace the man. 


Satoru Iwata built many of our childhoods in a profound way. He built Balloon Fight and EarthBound. He helped design Mario, Kirby, and Zelda titles. Along with Masahiro Sakurai, Iwata built the prototype for Super Smash Bros. He worked in the trenches, developing and designing games into his 40s. Without Iwata, video games would be a dimmer medium. 


In an era where many have become cynical and disillusioned with video game companies and the familiar PR lines, Satoru Iwata stood out. Instead of going bigger and flashier with Nintendo press conferences, he took them smaller and more intimate, using technology to talk directly to each person who supported Nintendo. He opened up Nintendo to the public, a company that had fiercely guarded its secrets and privacy. He changed the way a staple of the video game industry talked with its fans. That's incredible.


Satoru Iwata was the kind of man who was willing to leave the corporate office and spend weeks personally fixing bugs and looking over code to make sure Super Smash Bros. Melee released on time. As CEO, Iwata took a 50% pay cut to allow people at Nintendo to keep their jobs. Throughout his life, Satoru Iwata displayed impeccable decency, dedication, and joy. Those things shown through in his work, the games he poured his life into, the games we played and laughed and bonded over. 


How do you properly send off someone like that? How do you say goodbye? 


The man was more than a corporate suit, more than a meme, and more than a creator of idle pastimes. People formed friendships over the fun infused into his games. Kids grew up with childhoods that were that much happier because they had spent time with his work. I believe that his good labor made us all better people and that his death leaves a little hole in all of us. In truth, there is no proper way to say goodbye. The world is a poorer place without Iwata. His effort meant so much to so many and now he is gone. 

Satoru Iwata leaves behind a legacy filled with countless smiles and happy memories. Some of those smiles and memories are mine and that's why I find myself wishing so hard that I was writing a story about a new Iwata banana meme instead of an obituary. It hurts when we lose someone with a good heart and Satoru Iwata had one of the best.


Thank you, Iwata-san. May God watch over you as you rest in peace. We'll keep smiling for you.

Feature originally appeared on 07/13/15

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