“Satoru Iwata is one who truly was unique–in the fullest meaning of the word.”
Last night at The Game Awards, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime took to the stage to share some thoughts about Satoru Iwata, the former Nintendo CEO who passed away from cancer earlier this year.
Following a slideshow of photos featuring some memorable Iwata moments, Fils-Aime eulogized Iwata, whom he described as “unique in the fullest meaning of the word.” You can watch his full remarks above (courtesy of Nintendo Life), or check out a full transcript below.
One of the most overused words in the English language is unique. That’s what all of us want to be on some level or another. But very few of us truly are. Satoru Iwata is one who truly was unique–in the fullest meaning of the word.
If you were to design the perfect person to lead a video game company, you’d want someone who understood electrical engineering, who understood software design, and who understood business. Not many can claim this broad kind of background, but Mr. Iwata did. And not only did he understand all of these areas, but he was accomplished in every one. If you’ve read the Iwata Asks series, you know he could drill down into the particulars of both hardware and game design. No one could lose him in the details.
On his business résumé, there’s one number that stands out. Our dedicated gaming industry is now over 30 years old. In that time, only five platforms have achieved lifetime sales in excess of 100 million units worldwide. Of those five, Satoru Iwata was directly involved with three of them.
At HAL Laboratories he helped bring Kirby’s Dream Land and other games to Game Boy. And then, as president of Nintendo, he oversaw the introduction of both Nintendo DS and Wii.
Beyond his résumé, I can add another signature point: The man was fearless. Remember how you first felt when you heard the name Wii? Or remember what was said when you found out about Nintendogs, or Brain Age, or a dual-screened portable device? You may have been puzzled. But he already knew; he had already heard the criticisms internally. But he always championed an idea he truly believed in, and we all benefited.
For Mr. Iwata, it was not enough to repeat the words of Nintendo’s mission, to surprise and delight with the unexpected–he lived those words. He was unique.
Finally, on a personal level, he was my boss and he was my mentor and he was my colleague. But most of all, he was my friend, and I’m a better person for it. And I think every gamer is better for having Mr. Iwata’s vision and talent help inspire and shape the passion we all share. No matter what is going on in our lives or in the world, Mr. Iwata wanted Nintendo to be about putting smiles on people’s faces. Nintendo, at its heart, is about making us feel younger than we are today. Mr. Iwata, I hope you’re smiling right now.
Iwata was absent from E3 in 2014 due to health issues, later revealed to be a bile duct growth which was removed via surgery. He was back to work in October last year, although there were concerns about his rapid weight loss. Iwata was not present at this year’s E3, staying in Japan in order to focus on Nintendo’s “other areas of business.” He passed away in July and was succeeded as president and CEO by Tatsumi Kimishima.