Remembering Satoru Iwata
On July 11th, the gaming world lost one of its greatest innovators. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata was more than a corporate figurehead – he was a gamer, a designer, a master of the art form and a proponent for the power of the gaming medium.
His history and Nintendo’s have been tethered since the 80s, but when he became President of the company in 2002 he became a face as familiar to gamers as that of Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. The world over mourns his passing, Miiverse is flooded with messages and condolences, and many of us here at The Nerdy Show Network have taken to sharing our thoughts on this tremendous loss. Below, you’ll find our voices as well as others from in and around our nerd world remembering Satoru Iwata.
Jessica Uelmen – Nerdy Show Host
“On my business card I’m a president. In my head I’m a game developer. But in my heart I am a gamer.”
That quote speaks volumes to what Iwata-san did for Nintendo. Iwata, living by his gamer heart, played a hand in bringing to life some of the most amazing video games of all time. I don’t know what Nintendo will be without him.
Mega Ran – Rapper, Host of Bits, Rhymes, and Life
For Iwata-san, I’m gonna be playing EarthBound for the first time (no judging!). Been waiting forever to play it, and tonight is as good time as any. I’ll see you on Twitch, let’s share stories.
Stevo Bortz aka Level99 – Overclocked Remix, Host of Friday Night Fanfiction
I hope that somewhere, somehow, Mr. Iwata is now shaking hands with Mr. Yokoi and talking about the great times they had shaping what ended up being a cornerstone element of what a lot of us consider to be our collective character.
Considering how hard he worked, constantly to maintain what he cared about, and what he believed in, no matter his position, I can only hope that he knew how much we cared about what he gave us. Despite our propensity to bitch and moan at the slightest thing, deep down, I hope that he knew.
John Hex Carter – Nerdy Show Host
Remember when Iwata took a pay cut when the WiiU was struggling, instead of firing anyone? When was the last time you heard a CEO going that route? The man was a legend who contributed to Kirby and EarthBound as a developer and then went on to lead Nintendo to where it is today – including the Nintendo Direct program.
He was an inspiration, not only as a developer and a creator, but as a businessman. Rest well, Iwata-San. You deserve it.
Dan Moore – Editor at Fangamer
All of us at Fangamer know each other because, when we were preteens and teenagers in the late 90s, we liked the same videogame none of our friends cared about.
So we joined the same message board. I can’t speak for everybody at Fangamer, but for a long time the community that built up around EarthBound was home for me—home in the sense that I knew, when I went there, that the people I’d find understood me on some level that went beyond having common interests.
We grew up. Some of us found cool things to do in the real world, some of us found other communities. But I like to think that all of us are imprinted in some way by the same decisions we made after we played EarthBound and really, really wanted to talk to someone else about how it made us happy. Every so often, at PAX, we’ll bump into somebody none of us has talked to since they left the Starmen.Net forums in 200X, and it’ll be like no time has passed at all, except that we’re all very uncomfortable with the internet names we chose when we were 12.
And 20 years later, EarthBound has the same pull—people who were born years after the game came out play it and then find each other. There’s something timeless in the game that comes out through the writing, and the art, and the way it all fits together. Somehow, after 20 years of technological progress and 20 years of thinking about game design, none of the seams are showing.
Most of you probably already know this, too, but years into the development process, EarthBound was a mess. As I understand it Satoru Iwata came in and basically told the EB team that they’d need to throw out the programming and start over. I can’t imagine how extraordinarily awkward that meeting must have been, or how easy it would have been for Iwata to say “Please understand: This is a mess and I can’t afford to be associated with it” and walk away.
Instead—whether it was because he saw something great in all the half-working pieces of the game or because he just relished a challenge—Iwata and the HAL team came in and built a working game out of all that material in a year. A year after that, it came out in the West.
A few years after that, all of us—us EarthBound fans—started to meet. Some of us married each other, lots of us launched companies and careers and vocations fueled by it, and all of us came away with friends we’d never have met without it. A week from now a few hundred of us are meeting up at a convention—in the desert, in July—just to celebrate the way this one game was able to make us feel, and that it was capable of bringing all of us together.
And on some level we owe all of that to Satoru Iwata looking at a mess of a game, signing himself up for a year’s worth of late nights and busy weekends, and deciding to make it work. Thanks for everything.
Tony Baldini – Nerdy Show Host
I didn’t know a lot about Iwata. Miyamoto was always the name I heard bandied about whenever Nintendo was brought up. But every time I did hear his name pop up, it was always doing something extraordinary. He was never too big to play, to be a part of the Nintendo experience. Their E3 presentation this year was a highlight for me, not because of anything they announced but their willingness to be silly in announcing it. To me, that sort of open minded way of presenting ideas was indicative of the nature of Nintendo. It was playful and creative in a sea of trying to be “badass” or “hard”. Iwata was a huge part of that. He will be sorely missed.
Cap Blackard – Nerdy Show Host
It’s always a challenge to process the departure of an artist. It’s especially challenging when, like Iwata-san, death comes all too soon and on the precipice of so many changes. While Western business journalists bully Nintendo for being different, Iwata stayed Nintendo’s course to represent something more than a bottom line. The mobile market would be entered on their terms, not cashing in on lucrative fads; and meanwhile Nintendo looked to loftier goals such as the still conceptual “quality of life” tech dedicated to all of us living fuller, more healthy, existences. No one but Iwata-san would dare to explore territory like that in this industry.
Iwata wasn’t just a business man, he wasn’t just a coder, he was a man whose artistry was passion. You can play and love all the numerous games that Iwata had a hand in, and you can also go one step further and get to know his passion first-hand. Take, for example his Utopian 2005 keynote speech “Heart of a Gamer” or the many truly fascinating conversations he organized with other game developers in his “Iwata Asks” series. As long as an artist’s work yet lives, they defy mortal death. Keep his works alive, keep his words alive, and the passion of Iwata-san will stay lit.
Mike Wall – Ghostbusters: Resurrection
Sending my condolences, directly.
Rest in peace, friend.
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