The gaming industry has lost one of its most prominent figures this weekend with the passing of Nintendo of America's CEO, Satoru Iwata.
Iwata began his career in the video game industry at a young age, working for Japanese company HAL Laboratory Inc. While there, Iwata helped develop several titles including Mother and Kirby. These games were considered great successes for the company, and he eventually arose to the level of President at HAL Laboratory.
Iwata later left HAL Laboratory to work for a close strategic partner of the company, Nintendo of America. In June 2000 he was appointed Director at Nintendo of America, and quickly arose to a new position as President in May 2002. He eventually became Representative Director.
Iwata served the majority of his career in this position and oversaw the company through the life of the Nintendo Wii console, while also helping to develop games in the Mario, Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing series.
The Nintendo Wii is seen as one of Iwata's greatest accomplishments, as he helped to develop the hardware and unique features that would make the console a success. This came at a time when the major game consoles were becoming increasingly similar, and Iwata felt a strong need for the company to stand out and differentiate itself from its competitors.
The consoles that the Wii competed with focused on powerful hardware to gain an edge in the game console market, but the Wii instead used unique gesture controls that made the system more interactive. People had to actually move around to play games, and not just push buttons on a controller.
This decision was partially influenced by Iwata's personal views. During an interview, Iwata stated that he never wanted to be a bystander, a person who fits into the background and goes unnoticed, and that is what he endeavored to make the Nintendo Wii. This vision helped to make the system the most successful console in the company's history.
Iwata continued to serve Nintendo as a Representative Director through the development of the Nintendo Wii U, after which he was promoted to CEO.
Serving for nearly 15 years, Iwata has made a considerable impact on the development of Nintendo as well as the gaming industry as a whole. He passed away unexpectedly on July 11, 2015 from a bile duct growth, and with him so passes a part of Nintendo.
The company for the time being will be lead by Representative Directors Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto, as the company says goodbye to one of its most influential CEOs. Goodbye Iwata. さよならいわたさん。