Satoru Iwata: The Life Of The Modern Age Face Of Nintendo

Posted: Jul 13 2015, 8:49am CDT | by , Updated: Jul 13 2015, 9:16am CDT, in News | Technology News


Satoru Iwata: The Life of the Modern Age Face of Nintendo!
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According to Iwata different sorts of games should be made for different kinds of people, with varying skills.

Satoru Iwata the CEO of Nintendo recently passed away. Iwata was 55 years old and died after losing the battle with cancer of the bile duct. In his 13 years as the CEO of one of the world’s biggest organisation, Iwata proved himself to be a class apart from the corporate CEO’s as a man who simply loved games. Iwata was famous for his approachable demeanour and won numerous accolades in the 2000’s for steering Nintendo towards success. 

As the Guardian reports, in 1994 after Sony released the PlayStation, the company Nintendo had been struggling due to the increasing technological innovations in the gaming world. At the time Nintendo had released fairly good N64 and GameCube consoles, which did not compare to the PlayStation.

During such dark ages for Nintendo, Iwata arrived on the scene and changed the way Nintendo is perceived today with his ‘Blue Ocean’ philosophy. The ‘Blue Ocean’ philosophy first related by Iwata himself would go on to proclaim that Nintendo will come up with new sorts of designs in the gaming world rather than compete with the likes of PlayStation and Xbox.  Iwata did not believe in competing with others but he believed in coming with new avenues for the gaming world. 

Iwata was born in 1959 in Japan and as a young kid he had always been fascinated with games. As a teenager Iwata further delved into the world of gaming and developed his own games on his calculator. Iwata had previously shared how making new games gave him the passion as a game programmer, when one of his friends would be excited by his new creations. Iwata reflected saying about his friend: I found my first customer and awakened to the joy of making something. I often think how I would have never made video games if it weren’t for that experience.”

As The Verge reported Iwata had started his career at the Japanese based gaming studio ‘HAL Laboratory’ and helped create the beloved Kirby games and was appointed as the CEO of Nintendo in 2002. The appointment was a major surprise to the world as he was the first CEO by the company not from the Yamauchi family, who own the Nintendo organisation.

Iwata‘s predecessor Hiroshi Yamauchi was notorious  as a domineering boss who specialized in business, while Iwata was the complete opposite as he was friendly and had a background in game programming. Iwata’s true self as a gamer can be reflected from his own words, when he once said:  "On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer."

As Iwata took over the reins of Nintendo he started conducting special panels with various gamers and dubbed the panels ‘Iwata Asks’, where Iwata himself would interview game developers for new ideas.

Famous game developers such as Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Legend of Zelda producer and director Eiji Aonuma, appeared on these panels multiple times and always described them as filled with laughter by Iwata.  Iwata once said: “Video games are meant to be just one thing,” he said. “Fun! Fun for everyone.” which perfectly reflects his welcoming personal ideology. 

According to Bloomberg during his 13 years at the helms of Nintendo, Iwata changed the world of gaming with four major products- Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and the Amiibo. The Nintendo DS released in 2004 when Nintendo was drowning in a sea of competition, completely changed the face of gaming as it introduced mobile gaming.

The Nintendo DS featured a touch screen even before the iPhones and the dual screen format gave the players sharper graphics to focus in the game. The Nintendo DS also allowed playing games through wireless connectivity which led to the formation of group play and has sold more than 154 million units to this date.

The second major release under Iwata’s leadership was the Wii in 2006. Wii was the first time a gaming company had tried to bring the whole family together to play games digitally. The virtual sensor technology relatively new at the time, took Nintendo to a whole new level as multiple players played outdoor games such as tennis and bowling on their screen.

The Wii went on to become the most successful gaming console ever in history and has sold more than 100 million units till date.

"As we spend more time and money chasing exactly the same players, who are we leaving behind? Are we creating games just for each other? Do you have friends and family members who do not play videogames? Well, why don't they?" Iwata asked at a gaming conference in 2005.

In 2011 Nintendo released the Nintendo 3DS, the successor to their 2004 savior console. As the name indicates the Nintendo 3DS console allowed players to enter virtual reality in 3D configuration allowing them to immerse in the game without distractions or side glances.

Similarly in 2014 the last Nintendo product released under the guardianship of Iwata was the Amiibo. While competitors had been going after mobile gaming, Nintendo released the Amiibo characters which are tiny figurines which interact with any gaming hardware to personalize the experience on any console. More than 10 million Amiibo have been sold since its release. 

In 2008 while talking to BBC Iwata shared his secret to success is to believe in increasing the number of people gaming and he wants to bring more people in the gaming world who otherwise don’t game at all. 

However before his death not all was smooth at Nintendo. According to BBC, in recent years Nintendo sales had started to wane a bit but rather than cut jobs, the CEO decided to cut his own pay. Iwata also compelled his other executives to do the same and continued to work relentlessly for Nintendo till his death. 

Since his death numerous gamers have taken to the social media to grieve his death through digital artwork. In the popular Wii game Splatoon many users have used the Doodle feature to write their tributes for the late gamer. Other fan art and memes are also circulating the social media giving tribute to Iwata. 

As Iwata once said it all at a conference: "Laughter, fear, joy, affection, surprise, and - most of all - accomplishment. In the end, triggering these feelings from our players is the true judgment of our work."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




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