We Understood: Giving One’s Life to Games

Satoru Iwata with bananas in E3 2012

This post was written in haste, hoping to get it up while the news was still fresh. I slept just after the news started to circulate; I admittedly didn’t think much of it at first. I just posted a semi-humorous status on social media about it before I turned in (I’m nocturnal at the moment). I did show respect to Iwata-san with that status, but I kind of feel bad that I didn’t think of writing a post about him right away. My experience with the products of Iwata-san’s hard work and vision had only been recent, but he still made an impact.

I’ve never been that big of a fan of Nintendo; I grew up a Sega kid and never owned a Nintendo system for a long time. When I was starting to earn money, I bought a Game Boy Micro and later a DS to play Pokemon games. I now own a 3DS, and I’ve been quite happy with it due to all the unique gems that Nintendo systems seem to always harbor. Nintendo may have often been the odd one out among the “Big Three” of gaming, but their efforts have always been earnest.

Satoru Iwata had been sick for quite a while. He wouldn’t just miss an E3, much less two of them in a row. It was a big part of his job to show the western world what Nintendo had been up to lately and he seemed quite eager about it. This year’s Nintendo E3 conference was a little disappointing as they seemed dwarfed by the bombs Sony and Microsoft threw down. It also lacked that Iwata magic; his presence always gave life to those presentations.

He entered this world of computers and games with a great deal of faith; his youth pushed him even when his parents expressed disappointment over his choice of career. It was understandable why they felt that way, but that man would live his life making other people understand how he felt.

He gave his life to games and helped us all understand. Whenever gaming went to various paths with all of the trends and fads, he kept Nintendo at a certain direction and didn’t just accept what was popular, even when we thought they were “out of touch”. Unlike other executives, Iwata was a game developer first and businessman second because he came from making games. It seemed that “fun” never left his mind, even when Nintendo had been struggling and gaming was trying to reach for high art.

As a tribute piece, this hasn’t been the most poignant. I wish I could write more about the man other than what is already known, but my Nintendo experience isn’t as extensive as that of others. But I remember the Famicom and the Game Boy; I had some limited play with them during childhood. I now look at my 3DS with more reverence due to Iwata’s influence.

Fifty-five is such an early age for someone like him to depart. It seemed like he still had so much to give and Nintendo needs him now more than ever. Even when people would moan about Nintendo’s decisions in recent years, they never held it against Iwata-san. How could you hate such a sweet man as him? He asked us to “please understand”, and we understood.

We understood him because we loved the same thing. He gave his life to games, and our lives were changed by that.


I leave you with a video by Jim Sterling, a Nintendo fan.