Remembering the man behind Nintendo

Gamers often forget the products they enjoy aren’t just created by a faceless company. There are people who make the games we enjoy. Anywhere from one person to dozens to sometimes even hundreds of people come together to create games like “Super Mario Bros.” or “Gears of War.”

One of those people died last week.

By now, many gamers have mourned the passing of Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, who died at age 55 on June 12 from cancer in his bile duct.

Iwata is one of the people who has ensured video games stayed fun. He was a trailblazer at a company that, for a long time, was controlled by one family in Kyoto, Japan. Iwata worked his way up from designing games like “Earthbound” and “Kirby” to become president in 2002.

He had a huge presence on Nintendo and arguably helped set the tone for Nintendo’s family friendly, wacky style of hardware on the market today.

It’s people like Iwata who have the vision to move gaming into new territories. Iwata oversaw the launch of the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo DS, both systems which catapulted Nintendo into new heights. In fact, Iwata and “Mario” creator Shigeru Miyamoto were the subject of a famous meme (It prints money!) because of their successes with that hardware.

Iwata was also well-known for his ability to oversee a project. He single-handedly convinced the “Earthbound” development team to rebuild its game after development lagged. He also was responsible for putting a whole new region into “Pokemon Gold and Silver,” in essence doubling the game.

There’s also the oft-repeated tale that Iwata, before he was named president of Nintendo, once spent a week reading the code from the original Game Boy version of “Pokemon” to put its battle system inside the Nintendo 64 game “Pokemon Stadium.”

In other words, he was an impressive guy.

But Iwata isn’t the only memorable game designer out there. There are hundreds of people who contribute to our video games, from Miyamoto to Hideki Kamiya of “Devil May Cry” fame to Nobuo Uematsu, famous “Final Fantasy” composer, to Cliff Blyzinski, who created the “Gears of War” series.

Iwata’s death is rightfully considered a tragedy for the gaming industry, but there are tons of people who contribute to the products we care about. If anything, the death of the beloved Nintendo president serves to reinforce that.

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