Thoughts On: Satoru Iwata and Child-like Excitement/Wonder

On July 12th, 2015, Nintendo of Japan President/CEO Satoru Iwata passed away at the age of 55. A great and influential man is gone from us way too early, and he will surely be missed. I wanted to talk about this specific topic for a while, about child-like excitement/wonder, because I feel like Satoru Iwata, Shigeru Miyamoto, and everyone at Nintendo represented that, and now due to Mr. Iwata’s passing, it’s a great time to bring this up. As a gamer, no matter how bad it can get for the industry, it’s important to keep this part of you going, and not let the cynical hate for certain companies keep dragging down your love for video games.

Why do I say that? Well, how cynical have we gotten with the gaming industry as a whole these past few years? Companies abusing DLC practices, under-delivering games that had huge amounts of hype behind them, season passes, ruining the potential for free-to-play to be a good thing, and so on. It’s been hard at times to feel like gaming can still be this fun hobby/job when it seems like companies don’t think of us as gamers but more like walking wallets filled with debit and credit cards. However, Nintendo never really felt like that to me. Whenever I would see what kind of announcement or what kind of game they were working on, I never saw or felt like they were thinking “What kind of game could we make to screw you out of money”.

Every time I watched their Nintendo E3 conferences or Nintendo Directs, I always got this positive vibe from them. It was as if they were thinking, “What kind of game could we make, and how could we make it fun for the player? How can we make sure they have a blast and an experience to remember?”  There are two quotes by Satoru Iwata that I want to use in this article because it sums up how I view video games. "On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer." The other quote is “Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for Everyone!” That really resonates with me, and is why I wish more executives of game companies would think like this. I get it, you have to be profitable and make sure you don’t go belly-up, but if that is the only reason you are making games, just to make money, then why are you even here? Sure, I like different gaming experiences, but I want to have fun! Fun has always been the number one thing I look for in gaming, and for good reason. Satoru Iwata and everyone at Nintendo knew that more than anyone. Satoru Iwata was such a great person. Charming, likable, funny, always knew how to put a smile on your face, and was a guy you could just sit down with and play some Mario Kart 64 or Balloon Fight. He might have made a few odd decisions in terms of business, but he was also a man that took a price cut on his paycheck to make sure no one got laid off. He always knew that even though you are running a game company, you have to have fun and show that you love what you do.  Another element I respected from him was that he embraced the internet memes made with his quotes and gestures, and ran with them. How many execs do you know have fun with the memes or the jokes the internet has made about you? How many execs make sure to use words like “fun” to describe their experiences? How many execs still had an excitement and wonder for what gaming could be?

Nintendo might have a few problems here and there, but Mr. Iwata always made sure to be positive, come out if something went wrong and address it, and had fun with his job. Satoru Iwata, you are already missed, and I raise my tear-filled glass of peach tea for you. Rest in Peace. Now then, if you will excuse me, I need to play some Earthbound. Thanks for reading.