I came out of work late last night to sadly read the tragic news of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata's passing. Iwata-san, to those unfamiliar, was the "anti-CEO." While he wore business suits to meetings and answered often inane questions from shareholders, year after year, that's where the similarities end.
Beloved by gamers and game developers the world over, this was a man who started out as a simple game programmer, became a genius at his craft, advanced through the ranks to become the leader of a multinational, multi-billion dollar brand at a young age...and yet still wouldn't hesitate to jump back into game development to help teams meet deadlines, cut his pay in half so that his workers wouldn't be subjected to layoffs during the company's hardships, or simply put on a goofy hat and laugh throughout interviews...actions far removed from any leader of a powerful company. In fact, Game Center CX, a popular television program in Japan that subjects the host, Chief Arino, to playing incredibly difficult games, had a surprise visit from Iwata-san. Just in the first few minutes Iwata's humor and genuineness shine through, but watching the entirety of the interview shows a man deeply invested in the industry he holds dear and how much of a true gamer he really was.
Accessible, kindhearted, a desire to push the company headstrong into making people happy, when all others would essentially tell him "that's not how a business should be run." With Iwata-san, he made being kind, friendly, and the desire to make people happy, the cool thing to do. What an incredibly sad day.
And yet his vision, kindness, and inclusiveness will endure.