I was saddened by the news that former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi had passed away last week, so I thought I would spend this week’s blog post briefly paying my respects.
I’m not sure exactly when I first became aware of who Mr. Yamauchi was. I was a subscriber to Nintendo Power magazine during the ’90s, and certain names like Shigeru Miyamoto and Minoru Arakawa gradually emerged as prominent figures. Yamauchi’s was certainly among them.
I learned more about the man behind Nintendo from reading David Sheff’s Game Over, and he came off as somewhat cold and demanding. Unflattering stories about his personality, or his unfaithfulness to his wife (possibly leading to his venture into “love hotels”), gave me a rather negative impression. On the other hand, he was a brilliant businessman who understood that video games could only truly be successful beyond their own novelty if they were the work of great craftsmanship. Without Yamauchi, Shigeru Miyamoto would have never become a game designer. He also spent his years in retirement donating to charities, and he built a cancer hospital in Kyoto. He’s also the reason the Mariners baseball team is still in Seattle instead of Florida.
As a Nintendo fan, it’s fair to say he had an impact on my life, just as he did for many other Nintendo fans in the ’80s and ’90s. He represents a golden era of video games, of which I have many fond memories.
My thoughts go out to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.
Hiroshi Yamauchi: The Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove – A good retrospective from USGamer.