Hiroshi Yamauchi (1927 – 2013)

As if the loss of a games company close to home is bad enough, now one of the most prominent men in the video games industry has passed away today.

Hiroshi YamauchiHiroshi Yamauchi was the 3rd President of Nintendo, a position he took on from 1940, back when Nintendo was still a manufacturer of playing cards, up until 2002 during the Gamecube era, and was the Chairman of the Board of Directors until 2005. While most young Nintendo fans won’t recognise him as the man behind Nintendo, unlike NOA president Reggie Fils-Amie or current President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, die hard fans and video game historians know him as the man that made Nintendo into one of the largest video game companies in the world.

When he was in charge, he helped Nintendo go international in the card manufacture business, and when cards were no longer selling, he got the company to experiment with several different ranges of products and business ideas until Nintendo found their new calling in toys, and eventually arcade games and video games. This man has not only made people like Gunpei Yokoi, Shigeru Miyamoto and Saturo Iwata into the most recognised and influential people in the video games industry, but has also brought entertainment and inspiration to gamers and game developers through his determination and strong business skills.

I have been a fan of Nintendo since I first played video games, playing the original Super Mario Bros, Mario Bros and Donkey Kong (although not on a proper NES) when I was five or six. I owned a Game Boy Color and played Pokemon Blue and later Pokemon Silver, and much later Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask on a Pikachu Edition Nintendo 64. Even more recently I’ve owned a Nintendo Wii when all my friends owned an Xbox 360 or PS3, and a Nintendo DS when most people I knew owned a PSP. Even today I play on my 3DS more than my PC or Xbox 360, because I feel that Nintendo innovates more than a large amount of AAA game corporations, and all the games they make are pure fun.

Now it’s best to make clear that despite his long involvement with Nintendo, Hiroshi Yamauchi’s main innovations and accomplishments weren’t as much to do with video games as they were to business. In life he was clearly a business man, and in life he wasn’t ashamed to admit that, there are even stories that showed how rarely he even played the games and hardware his company made. He was determined to make a good, well respected and successful company and the fact that he stayed on for over 50 years showed he didn’t want to leave until he knew that the company could handle itself without him.

As a fan of Nintendo, I’d like to say thanks to Mr Yamauchi, for all his dedication and drive for success, he wills surely be missed.

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