Satoru Iwata’s 56th birthday was yesterday in Japan, on December 6.
Words. Words cannot describe how devastated the world felt last July when Mr. Iwata lost his life due to a struggling battle with cancer. It was truly heartbreaking. It was confusing. It didn’t feel real. It still doesn’t. Here are our personal words for Iwata-san — words we never shared for him nearly five months ago.
These are our final words for Mr. Satoru Iwata.
In Our Words…
Kyle Dumont: Fifty-six years ago yesterday, a legend was born. Satoru Iwata would have viewed it differently; he’d argue that everyone who is born is a legend in their own way. Iwata had faith in everyone, which is how he led Nintendo into a successful era. Without his push for the motion-control revolution, would the industry have ever experienced the new style of play? Would we have companies pushing creative limits to craft a future built on immersion? Iwata and Nintendo led an innovative way of thinking in our community.
I often wonder how Iwata would react knowing the response from all of us. During his time as president, many threw Nintendo’s faults on him. Especially E3 2015. The widely negative reaction to E3 was the last Iwata had experienced. All the while, he continued to push creativity, have faith in others, and stay optimistic despite fans’ backlash. And now, Iwata has given us a final gift: Nintendo NX, the exhibition he pioneered. This new hardware platform is the final goodbye to the beloved president, who had faith in each and every one of us.
Have faith in others, live like Iwata did in his final days. That’s what he’d want. Happy Birthday, Satoru Iwata.
Kerry-Lee Copsey: During Satoru Iwata’s lifetime, he achieved many exceptional things, climbing the ranks from humble programmer, to software producer, to President and CEO of Nintendo. With a legacy like no other, he soon became one of the industry’s most innovative and respected figures. Iwata wasn’t just a smart businessman and a genius developer; he was a gamer at heart, and that passion resonated with millions of people worldwide. Every product he influenced oozed playfulness, humor, and above all else, fun.
It’s safe to say his work changed lives forever, including my own. Without Iwata’s hard work and dedication, I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today. The DS and Wii solidified my status as a “gamer,” while the 3DS and Wii U only strengthened my love for the medium. Without him at the helm of Nintendo, I would never have experienced such joy and happiness, or develop such strong bonds with my friends and family. Never shared those precious moments. My life would’ve been a great deal bleaker without video games — without Iwata’s Nintendo.
Nearly five months on from his passing, and it still hasn’t fully hit home that he’s gone. The industry has lost an extraordinary pioneer, the world is one incredible man down, but his lifelong efforts will be forever praised, never forgotten. Happy Birthday, Mr. Iwata. Thank you for everything.
Martyn Locker: Satoru Iwata has left behind a huge legacy at Nintendo. He pioneered the entire video game industry with the Wii and Nintendo DS at his prime, and when the company’s forecasts turned for the worse, with Wii U, he never lost sight of his original vision. It was his passion for delivering fun and unique experiences to a worldwide audience that kept Iwata relevant, and his humble nature and quirky sense of humor — which were often demonstrated during his Nintendo Direct appearances — gave him the much-deserved reputation as a gamer rather than a CEO.
As Wii U and Nintendo 3DS began to lose momentum, Iwata introduced plans to re-invigorate Nintendo’s IP with relaxed licensing terms for third parties, the introduction of Nintendo software on mobile devices and, of course, the upcoming NX platform that we still know little about. There are exciting times ahead for Nintendo fans, and it’s a true shame that Iwata won’t be around to see them play out.
His legacy will live on into Nintendo’s future, and his achievements within the company will be remembered by all. Thank you for everything, Mr. Iwata.
Carolanne Plourde: Mr. Iwata was not only the president of a company that has brought me joy since my childhood, but also a man of many talents and skills. Most of all, he loved to make gamers happy. The dedication he showed fans was unmatched — from Iwata Asks articles to hosting Nintendo Direct videos. He’s responsible for the existence of a lot of games that have become classics, and he played a big part in making the Nintendo DS, which easily became my favorite system of all time.
As a programmer, he was a role model for me. His passion, leadership and dedication inspired me to want to become a better programmer and strive to achieve great things. The appearance he gave to those of us who did not know him personally was that of a humble, but ambitious, man — a man for whom our enjoyment was not just his livelihood, but what he truly wanted to achieve.
His will to reach a wider audience gradually made the public understand that video games are not for a specific demographic; anyone can enjoy them. That was a great step forward in gaming, and it has further opened the path to other developers taking more risks to reach niche audiences.
Happy birthday, Mr. Iwata. We miss you dearly.
Adam Miller: In general, I do not give too much thought or attention when a celebrity passes on — even if I am a fan of their work. I usually feel a brief, genuine sorrow for their loved ones and move on with my day. Maybe it is because I did not know them in any capacity, let alone live hundreds of miles away from them. For the first time ever, however, I realized exactly how much I admired and enjoyed a celebrity when Satoru Iwata passed on earlier this year — a man who I never met and who lived on the opposite side of the globe.
Like many people, my favorite hobby is gaming. My favorite game company is Nintendo, and Iwata was truly the embodiment of all of the reasons I love Nintendo — fun, cheerful, endearing, clever, bold, and one-of-a-kind. He was just as much the great company as the company was the great man.
Frankly, Iwata is one of the top three people in the world who I can thank for decades of enjoying my favorite hobby, which makes his passing extremely significant to my life, and lives of millions of others — whether they realize it or not.
Happy Birthday, Iwata-san, and thank you.
Shawn Taylor: When news broke of Iwata’s death, I was confused. Not only because he had done a superb job at hiding from the public just how bad his health had deteriorated, but also because I simply couldn’t imagine Nintendo without him. But there it was — a release straight from the Big N itself confirming the astonishing news.
It’s been the better part of half a year since Iwata left us, and Nintendo is still here, still doing very Nintendo-y things and preparing to take their characters into new territories. With Nintendo’s forthcoming entry into the mobile space, their mysterious in-development NX console and even more novelties in the future (a theme park, quality of life services, maybe even movies), we can only look back at the company’s rich history to understand how it arrived here.
Iwata was an integral part of that history.
Perhaps no video game console has penetrated the masses as much as Wii. Perhaps no fighting series has achieved the level of success as Super Smash Bros. And perhaps no company has demanded as much attention as Nintendo has with its Directs.
Listing Iwata’s accomplishments can fill pages, but I think we all understand just what he meant not only to Nintendo, not only to its fans, but to the industry and artistry of video games entirely.
Kevin McMinn: Nintendo Direct, Iwata Asks, a Wii U unboxing with white gloves – all things that make me think about Satoru Iwata. When I think about Iwata himself, I often cry.
I secretly wipe tears away from my eyes, hiding my emotions from my wife. Outdoors, I hide behind a dark pair of shades hoping someone doesn’t notice my big salty alligator tears streaming uncontrollably down my face. Right now, I’m behind my computer screen. Crying. I’m trying to decipher the difference between a blurry “E” key and a blurry “F” key. It’s hit or miss, but no one can see me.
Am I embarrassed? No. I’m human. I just want to remember Iwata without anyone asking me “Hey, are you all right?” or “What’s wrong?” I just want to remember Iwata as I did for Nintendo Directs and Iwata Asks. When Iwata was still with us, I smirked and smiled whenever I watched his five-minute Wii U unboxing while wearing a pair of white gloves. When I watch that video today, I still smirk and smile. And cry.
I never knew Mr. Iwata, but I miss him for many reasons. While he continues to rest in peace, I will always think about him — every day — in one way or another.
I want to thank our team members for coming together to provide their contributions; I guess this is that one special tribute that we never curated. When Iwata passed, the timing just didn’t feel right. Reggie Fils-Aime’s recent speech for Mr. Iwata inspired me to think about certain things and gather some thoughts. And with Iwata’s birthday yesterday, I wanted to do something special for him. It’s an honor to finally share our warm thoughts with everyone. Regards, Kevin