Satoru Iwata was born on December 6, 1959, in Hokkaido, Japan. He was a professional video game player, programmer, businessman, video game designer, and video game producer from Japan. He influenced how video games came to be designed, programmed, created, and marketed. For example, he shifted the focus of video game production from top-of-the-line hardware to entertainment games. He was also a fine manager and many of the management changes he introduced are still prevalent in several tech-focused businesses. He posthumously received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Golden Joystick Awards and the 2016 DICE Awards.
December 6, 1959
July 11, 2015 (age 55)
Apart from his enviable technical video game programming skills, Iwata was known for his unique sense of humor. He incorporated humor into his company culture and marketing videos. This was quite uncommon in a culture where rigidity was an expected trait of company heads. One of his contemporaries once described him as a ventilator in a company with a gloomy atmosphere. Iwata was born on December 6, 1959, in Sapporo, Hokkaido Island, Japan, to Hiroshi Iwata, a local politician.
Throughout Iwata’s school days, he displayed unique leadership skills and served in various capacities. He was introduced to computers and gaming at an early age and took a keen interest in the field. He designed his first computer game when he was in high school. He would play on the game-slot machines at the local train stations with the money he earned from his part-time dishwashing job. Later, in 1974, he bought a programmable calculator and used it to develop games he could play with his classmates. Next, in 1978, he purchased a computer, a Commodore PET, which he dismantled to study how its different parts fit and worked.
In April 1978, Iwata enrolled at the Tokyo Institute of Technology to study computer science, where he became a part-time programmer at the HAL Laboratory. In 1980, he joined HAL, the company, as a part-time programmer and stayed there until 1982. It was at this job that he started to distinguish himself as an innovative programmer. He helped to design a peripheral device that allowed older computers to display graphics for newer games. In 1993, he became the president of HAL and helped elevate the fortunes of the company. In 1999, he started working with Nintendo and officially joined the company the following year. He rose to become the President of Nintendo in 2002 and held the position until his demise in 2015.
Iwata gets his very first computer, a Commodore PET, but dismantles it to learn about its parts and functioning.
In April, Iwata joins the Tokyo Institute of Technology to study computer science.
Iwata joins HAL Laboratories, where he is the only programmer.
Before joining Nintendo, Iwata helps develop “Pokémon Gold and Silver” for the GameBoy Color.
Iwata shifts to Nintendo as the head of the corporate planning division and eventually becomes a Director.
Iwata becomes the fourth president and CEO of Nintendo Entertainment Systems.
Why We Love Satoru Iwata
His games improved lives
Iwata directed Nintendo to focus on developing products that improved the quality of life of its customers. He didn't want his creations to deprive people of an excellent quality of life.
He never fired employees
Even when Nintendo went through a rough patch and he had to choose between firing and pay cuts, he chose the latter and did not fire his employees. He understood the importance of employment and was a people’s leader.
He was humble
Nintendo made several product mistakes under his leadership. However, he was always ready to accept responsibility and never blame others.
5 Surprising Facts
He coded “Pokemon Stadium”
Iwata rewrote the combat code of “Pokemon Stadium” in a week by himself.
He wanted games to be affordable
Iwata believed that the price of games should not exceed $50 and tried to keep the production cost low.
His first published project
"Super Billiards," which is a pool game for the MSX, was the first game Iwata created and published.
He wasn't related to the Yamauchi family
He was the first Nintendo President who was not related to the Yamauchi family by blood or marriage.
His illness influenced his avatar
Iwata updated his Mii character avatar to reflect his weight loss when he was battling cancer.
Satoru Iwata FAQs
Which was the last game Iwata helped to create?
The mobile game “Pokemon Go” was the last game Iwata helped create. He was very passionate about it.
Did Satoru Iwata have kids?
No, Iwata didn’t have any kids. The games he created were his children and he was deeply attached to them.
Was Satoru Iwata a good person?
Yes, Iwata was an incredible person. More than 4,100 people attended his funeral
despite the unfriendly weather that day.
Satoru Iwata’s birthday dates