A gamer at heart, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata dies at 55

Satoru Iwata, president and CEO of video game giant Nintendo, died on Saturday at the age of 55 from a bile duct growth, the company announced on Sunday.
The growth in Iwata’s bile duct was first discovered in 2014, forcing the president to miss Nintendo’s annual shareholder’s meeting that year. In a statement released to shareholders, Iwata claimed that the growth “was detected very early” and that he recovered well from a surgery to remove it.
Iwata started his career as a programmer, and became president for a video game developer and eventual Nintendo affiliate HAL Laboratories. During his time there, he restored the company from near bankruptcy and worked on several notable video game properties, including “Earthbound” and the “Kirby” and “Super Smash Bros.” series. Iwata moved to Nintendo as director in 2000, and in 2002 he was named president of the company after longtime chief Hiroshi Yamauchi stepped down. In 2013, Iwata became Nintendo’s CEO.
Iwata stands between Nintendo mascots Mario and Luigi during one of his many “Nintendo Direct” videos
After taking charge of Nintendo, Iwata led the company into a period of growth by shepherding the launches of the popular DS and Wii consoles — the latter selling more than 100 million units. In addition to overseeing the successors to those gaming systems — the Wii U and 3DS — Iwata alsorevealed the company’s plans to develop for the ever-growing smartphone and tablet market.
While Iwata’s tenure was noted with success, the president also presided throughdownturns for the company. Sales for the Wii U and 3DS consoles failed to match their predecessors and from 2011 through 2014, Nintendo posted their first ever operating losses, resulting in Iwata voluntarily halving his salary in 2011 and 2014. In 2015, however, Iwata announced that Nintendo had once again posted an operating profit.
During his time with Nintendo, Iwata was a public figure for the company, interacting with gamers online, starring in videos about upcoming games and even hosting a column on Nintendo’s website called “Iwata Asks.” Iwata also pushed for reinventing the boundaries of video games and reaching out for new audiences, describing in a letter to shareholders that Nintendo’s 10-year goal was to achieve “a platform business that improves people’s [quality of life] in enjoyable ways.”
Though his role was in the business side of the industry, Iwata claimed that he still associated himself with the gaming world, as he described in an often-used quote from his keynote address at the 2005 Game Developers Conference:
“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.”