As time continues to move forward, we are hearing more and more about the legacy of the late, great President/CEO of Nintendo, Mr. Satoru Iwata. Coming as no surprise, Iwata-san’s true impact at Nintendo and the gaming industry was not only felt in his presence, but will continue to be felt in his sad absence.
Another such outpouring of affection for Iwata-san has been translated from this week’s Famitsu column for Mr. Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of Kirby and the Super Smash Bros. series. Sakurai-san had a relationship with Iwata-san that spanned many years dating back to when Sakurai-san applied for a job at HAL Laboratory where Iwata-san was one of his interviewers.
Sakurai-san’s description of Mr. Iwata is summed up by the following five ways he saw his friend:
He was a man of virtue. Where a normal person would get annoyed or angry, he would never show such emotions and would instead analyse, organize, and offer ideas. He was someone who could bow his head and apologize for things that weren’t his fault. I often worried about his stress levels, but he always talked with a smile.
He had a brilliant mind. Even when people would talk at length or without focus he was able to quickly say, “so, what you’re trying to say is…” and quickly summarize their point. He was able to see to the heart of people and things and was a master of simplifying them so that anyone could understand their point. He could immediately make a call on changes to improve. I have no doubt that many people were saved by this quality.
He was a man of effort. Even though he didn’t start out in the managing field, he read numerous management books, he would ask for advice from the necessary people that he would take to heart, and managed to become the president of Nintendo. What he gained from his years as a programmer allowed him to take many long-term projects to successful fruition.
He was open and generous. Things like his Iwata Asks, and Nintendo Direct weren’t things that necessarily required the president of Nintendo to stand at the front and do. There was always the risk of frivolous criticism. And yet, by being the spokesperson, I believe he showed the importance of properly conveying a message to his audience.
He was empathetic. After he became the president of Nintendo, he would write emails to all employees to communicate and as hard as it was, took a stance to try to treat everyone as equals. He would often ask third parties to see how people were doing. As an individual, he had no self-righteous qualities.
As I shared a few days ago, Iwata-san was indeed a highly effective leader, and the fruits of his work will bear in time, and the lessons learned from his example will be great! Iwata-san will indeed be sorely missed. Not just for what he meant to the Nintendo as a company and the gaming industry as a whole, but also for the live physical example that he truly was.
As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!