Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata Dies of Cancer at Age 55

Who does the modern public have to thank for bringing the excitement back to the video game sphere? A revolution took place in the past few decades, changing the public’s attitude towards the average gamer. Judging by the number of consoles and arcade game machines for sale, video games are no longer only for the lonesome nerd. And many point to Satoru Iwata as one of the main forces contributing to that shift in perspective.

Iwata’s History

Raised in Sapporo, Japan, Iwata began crafting games as early as his high school years. He majored in computer science at Tokyo Institute of Technology and worked for HAL Laboratory, Inc., a company working closely with Nintendo on programming and software development.

Iwata gained the position of corporate planning division head in 2000. He then succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi as Nintendo’s president in 2002. When Nintendo’s sales were performing poorly in 2006, Iwata could have become a follower or a leader. He could have attempted to match the hardware and software developments of the company’s competitors, or he could have broken new ground with novel ideas – and that’s exactly what Iwata decided.

Creating the Nintendo DS complete with a touch screen allowed gamers to enjoy a new level of interaction with their handheld gaming devices. The release of the Nintendo Wii alone, motion sensor-based game play another vision of Iwata’s, nearly doubled Nintendo’s stock price.

Iwata’s Legacy

Iwata delivered the keynote address at the 2005 Game Developer’s Conference, famously speaking this line, “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.”

It is this sentiment which many believe led Iwata in his expert decision-making and legendary vision for the remaking of Nintendo. While his tragic death on July 11 from a hard-fought battle with cancer is a blow to the Nintendo company, his memory and vision will live on.