Iwata San
Image: Viz Media

It's possible you've seen the advert on these pages, or read about it plenty of times, and like this writer you may have a hardback copy of Ask Iwata: Words of Wisdom from Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's Legendary CEO on the way. While the book is out fully in some territories, in the UK (for example) the physical edition doesn't actually arrive until late May. However, it's worth noting that it's actually available today in lots of countries as an Amazon Kindle eBook, and is currently a fair bit less expensive than the hardback.

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Many reading this will have a huge admiration and fondness for Iwata-san, he was a company executive that transcended the role to become a hero in the industry. What shone through, in his videos, Iwata Asks articles and in the remarks of those that knew him, is that he had many gifts and talents. He was a prodigious game developer on a technical level, able to 'fix' and rescue projects like Earthbound through that technical wizardry. Yet he combined that with empathy, compassion and a desire to enable everyone to achieve their best, be valued and most of all to be happy.

We have just started to read the book - published by VIZ Media - but will share a quote each from Itoi-san and Shigeru Miyamoto on what made Satoru Iwata special. As for what makes the book a worthwhile read, not only do those who were close to Iwata-san write about him, but large parts are the former CEO's own words on his worldview, business philosophy, video games and much more besides. We can't wait to read it cover to cover.

Shigesato Itoi

Most of what he had to say involved happiness.

I realized he’d been saying this kind of thing the whole time. He was the sort of person who wanted to make everybody happy. He wanted to be happy, like he wanted his friends to be happy and his customers to be happy. I think I told him that I liked how he used the English word “happy,” though he pronounced it like a Japanese word whenever he said it. I shared his sentiment completely and was so thrilled to hear him say these things.

This part of the memory is so goofy that I hesitate to mention it, but every time Iwata said the word “happy,” he spread his fingers wide, like he was smiling with both hands. I’ll never forget that about him.

Shigeru Miyamoto

Iwata may have passed on, but the company is going strong. Thanks to all the ideas and systems that he left behind, our young hires have been able to thrive. What makes me sad is that if I have a crazy idea over the weekend, there isn’t anybody I can tell about it on Monday morning.

When I’m eating lunch, he isn’t there to say, “I think I’ve figured out your problem,” which leaves me feeling stuck sometimes. I really miss him.