Nintendo has become a cultural icon in today’s world and the company’s impact on the video game industry is unparalleled. Characters such as Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, and more have been around for an incredibly long time and will likely stick around long after we’re gone, but those that helped establish these brands aren’t destined to watch over them forever. Hiroshi Yamauchi, the former president of Nintendo who helped transition the company from a playing card maker to console manufacturer, is evidence that things can live on long after those who created them cease to exist, as he passed away early yesterday morning in a Japanese hospital after complications arose with pneumonia. He was 85.
Responsible for approving and funding the development and production of many trademark Nintendo products such as the NES and Game Boy, Yamauchi revolutionized the way the entire medium functions and his contributions are still felt decades later. After being forced out of law school to take control of the Big N following his Grandfather’s dwindling health, Yamauchi transitioned the company to a toy manufacturer — eventually leading the ambitious and often ruthless business man to begin development of video games.
Hiring on staff such as Shigeru Miyamoto and current Nintendo president Satoro Iwata, he took a company on the brink of obscurity and transformed it into a household name. Yamauchi stepped down in 2002 shortly after his company launched the Nintendo Gamecube, having successfully created franchises and hardware that would last for countless generations to come.
Iwata has since released an official statement about the passing of Mr. Yamauchi.
“We will continue to treasure the values Yamauchi taught us — that what makes you unique lies at the core of entertainment. And we at Nintendo will continue to change the company flexibly to adapt to the times, as Yamauchi did, to carry on his spirit.”
Without Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo likely would have never entered the video game industry. If that hadn’t happened then the industry itself may not even exist as it does today, largely because the Nintendo Entertainment System is held responsible for resurrecting the medium following the great video game crash of 1983. Gamers owe a lot more to Yamauchi then they may have realized and his passing is a significant blow.
Yamauchi is survived by his wife and three children, and we here at Game Rant give them, his former co-workers, and friends our deepest condolences. The industry has truly lost an icon.
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