Nintendo’s CEO Just Passed Away. Here Are 7 Reasons Why That’s a Big Deal.

People all over the world are mourning Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, who recently died from an aggressive form of bile duct cancer.

He was only 55 years old, and his death comes as a shock to gaming fans across the globe.

They continue to pay tribute to him on social media sites, using the hashtag #ThankYouIwata.

Why was his death such a big deal? We’re going to break it down for you.

1. Nintendo created tons of iconic characters and games, becoming an unforgettable part of childhood for some.

Image Credit: Wikimedia
Image Credit: Wikimedia

While Iwata didn’t create Mario, Donkey Kong and Zelda—that credit belongs to designer Shigeru Miyamoto—he did help steer their legacies throughout the 2000s and into the present day.

2. He was a game designer before becoming a CEO.

Most company CEOs come from a business background. Iwata was a game designer first, creating classics such as “Balloon Fight,” “Earthbound” and even the first Pokemon titles.

3. Iwata was only the company’s fourth CEO.

Image Credit: Wikimedia
Image Credit: Wikimedia

Believe it or not, Nintendo has been around since the 1880s. They started as a playing card and toy manufacturer, before branching out into video games. In their 130 years as a company, they’ve only had four CEOs.

4. He brought the company back to relevance.

Image Credit: Wikimedia
Image Credit: Wikimedia

Nintendo floundered a bit in the early 2000s, after the commercial disappointment of their Gamecube system.

Iwata was appointed CEO in 2002, and the first two systems released under his care were the massively successful Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS consoles. You probably own one or both.

5. Satoru Iwata took a massive pay cut rather than lay off employees.

When Nintendo had a rough year in 2013, Iwata took a 50% pay cut rather than do company-wide layoffs. This wasn’t the first time he did something like that.

6. He was silly.

Lots of CEOs are fairly stuffy, but Iwata always went above and beyond to prove he was ‘one of the fans.’

He filmed silly videos, conducted hilarious interviews and appeared in public while dressed as Luigi. His laughter has actually inspired its own meme.

7. Iwata was dedicated to using video games to bring families together.

Image Credit: Flickr
Image Credit: Flickr

One of Nintendo’s defining concepts, since the days of the NES, was that video games could be used to bring families closer together, rather than further apart.

To that end, under Iwata’s stewardship, the company avoided violent games and embraced designs that encouraged families to play together, like the massively successful “Wii Sports.”

Satoru Iwata is survived by his wife Kayoko. Funeral services will be held on July 17th.

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