SATORU Iwata, who led Japanese video game company Nintendo through years of growth with its Pokemon and Super Mario franchises, died on Saturday after a lengthy illness, prompting emotional tributes from game fans and industry rivals. He was 55.
The company’s statement yesterday said Iwata died of a bile duct tumour.
There was a torrent of sorrow online for Iwata as a person dedicated to entertaining others.
On Twitter, fans thanked him for childhood memories and for bringing families together. On some internet sites, an image of the flag in the Super Mario game was flying at half-mast.
Nintendo America announced it was suspending social media activity for the day “in remembrance” of Iwata.
“He didn’t just create technology. He created a whole culture,” said Nobuyuki Hayashi, a consultant and technology expert.
“It wasn’t just a product that he had delivered. He brought to people something that’s eternal, what people remember from when they were kids. He was special.” Iwata, president from 2002, died at Kyoto University Hospital. He had not been seen recently at game events, such as E3 in Los Angeles, where he was usually a participant.
Iwata had been poised to lead Nintendo through another stage as it will start making smartphone games.