Sunday, July 12, 2015

I Can't Understand

This has been a rough day. If you're a gamer, you already know why... Satoru Iwata, the long-time developer for HAL Laboratories who graduated to Nintendo CEO after Hiroshi Yamauchi retired in 2002, died from complications of a bile duct growth yesterday. It's all a little hard to take in, especially since I had no idea Iwata was ill. For me, there was no warning... everything Nintendo is and has been for the last thirteen years just came to a screeching halt with a single Twitter post. Are you sure? This isn't a hoax, is it? Oh, it came from a Nintendo press release? That is pretty official, isn't it? Shit.

What really gets me is that I don't know if I can honestly grieve for this man. I've never met Satoru Iwata, never knew him personally. I just appreciate his work as both a game designer (dating all the way back to Star Battle for the ancient VIC-20) and the leader of a major game company. The Iwata era ushered in a new, more Western-friendly Nintendo, with a console that appealed to almost everyone and a lantern-jawed marketing executive who vowed to kick ass and take names while making games.

So I'm not sure if mourning Iwata's death is a genuine act of sympathy, or just selfishness on my part. Would I care if he had been lower on the Nintendo food chain, perhaps a lesser known programmer or a random accountant buried deep within the company? Would it matter if he had nothing to do with the company at all; just an ordinary salaryman trying to make ends meet? I think about Iwata's death and wonder if I'm mourning the man himself, or what he's done for me, and what will happen to Nintendo (and by proxy, me) in his absence.

I feel terrible that this all happened. But for who, exactly? It's something I'll have to come to grips with as Nintendo deals with this loss and plans for an uncertain future.

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