Iwata, who had worked in the field of game design/development since the early 80s, played a large role in the development of some of Nintendo’s biggest game series such as Kirby, Smash Bros, and Pokemon. Having become the president of Nintendo in 2002, following the retirement of Hiroshi Yamauchi, by whom he was named as the successor, Iwata was the first president of the company to have not been a member of the founding family. Even prior to that, Iwata played an important role in the company as the head of the corporate planning division. Following his inauguration, he brought the company large financial success, particularly through directing the production of the Nintendo DS and Wii, asserting the company as a competitor among other manufacturers of consoles.
Aside from his success as a developer and CEO, Iwata was an immensely well-liked public figure, arguably one of the most popular and appreciated of his contemporaries. For many, his passing echoes those of great minds like his such as Steve Jobs in 2011. His likability among consumers came largely from his charming personality and wonderful sense of humor, as evidenced by public appearances and skits such as his recent appearance in Nintendo’s E3 presentation this year (in puppet form).
His death comes as a shock to many and gamers and non-gamers alike are beginning to mourn. In addition to the grief, his death brings speculation, particularly among the gaming community, about who will succeed him as the president of Nintendo. Regardless of who is chosen, Mr. Iwata will be dearly missed, and the impact he made will most certainly not be forgotten.