In 2015, the gaming industry lost one of it’s most beloved gaming figures, President of Nintendo at the time, Satoru Iwata. A man who helped launch a myriad of iconic consoles from the Nintendo Wii to the DS, Iwata was a pioneer in the gaming space.
Nintendo hasn’t always been the most outspoken company about interpersonal relationships within the company, but today we got a bit of a peek behind the curtain of one of Iwata’s deepest friendships. Legendary game creator, Shigeru Miyamoto spoke about the late Iwata and how he feels on reflection of losing a friend. This excerpt comes from a new book entitled, Iwata-san, where Miyamoto reflected on the loss of his friend (via IGN):
To me, he was a friend more than anything. It never felt like he was my boss or that I was working under him. He never got angry; we never fought about anything. Normally, if someone younger than yourself with fewer years of experience becomes president, it might be difficult to get along with each other, but it was never like that. It had always been obvious that he was more suited for the position (than me), so it never became a problem. I think it allowed us to naturally become true friends.
This quote sheds some light on the character of Miyamoto and Iwata and how it shaped their working and social relationships. Miyamoto went on to discuss the early days of their blossoming friendship where they made a tradition of getting lunch together:
Nintendo doesn’t pay for social expenses, so we had to go Dutch on the bill. That became a tradition that lasted even after he became company president and I became an executive.
Since Iwata’s passing, Miyamoto has been left to his own devices on his imaginative ideas. Iwata seemed to be a bit of a filter for Miyamoto, helping him work through his ideas weekly. Miyamoto stated:
Since he passed away, Nintendo has been doing just fine. He left many words and structures that live on in the work of our younger employees today. The only problem is that, if there is some good-for-nothing idea I come up with over the weekend, I have no one to share it with the next Monday. That I can no longer hear him say ‘Oh, about that thing…’ is a bit of a problem for me. It makes me sad.
It seems that there is no denying that the gravity of the loss of Iwata has likely weighed a lot on Miyamoto’s shoulders. Not only did the industry lose one of its greatest minds, but it also lost a great man. I think this is reflected in the way that Miyamoto discussed working with him at Nintendo.