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Goodbye, Satoru Iwata: The video game industry remembers one of its best

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has passed away at the age of 55. Befitting the digital medium in which he was a leader, many have gathered on social media to pay their respects.

Nintendo itself has lowered flags at its corporate headquarters in Japan to half staff, in memory of Iwata.

Here are more recollections of Iwata's colleagues and friends, rivals and co-workers, and persons who admired or were inspired by him. Polygon will update this post as more tributes are made.

Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president

"I always admired his personal, easy to understand commentary on games in development in his Nintendo Direct. He was an inspiration as a leader of one of the most influential companies in the game industry, who used to make games himself and has always been a gamer. I had a couple of times I had conversations with him at some international industry events, he was always friendly and nice to talk with. I was dreaming someday to have an open exchange of Tweets or to be on a same panel session with him to talk about industry and games we play. I even tweeted when I was leaving for E3 this year with #iwatter as I saw he started tweeting Nintendo E3 news with the hashtag. I have always respected Nintendo's games, how they are super accessible and polished for everyone to play and enjoy, and I understand Iwata-san was one of the key individuals to have kept that high quality standard across all Nintendo titles. I just wish he will rest in peace. Thank you for all your work for the better game industry."

Randy Pitchford, Gearbox Software president

"I never met anyone in our industry who knew him who did not admire and respect Iwata. I believe our industry has suffered a great loss with his passing. The wisest among us will long try to remember and embody his character."

Jack Tretton, former president, Sony Computer Entertainment America

"Iwata-san will be sorely missed. Thanks to his vision and leadership, millions of gamers around the world have been entertained and inspired. His contributions will never be forgotten."

Dean Hall, RocketWerkz chief executive

"The Wii gave me the first 'real' game project I ever got to work on: Speed Racer. I think he always embodied for gamers what we love about Nintendo; always full of surprises. Gave us something a bit different each E3 (of which the Wii was no exception). I think he was liked and admired so much because he was such a good CEO and because with Nintendo he made such good stuff. The thought that he bought video gaming into so many new living rooms with the Wii seems cold comfort to losing someone so brilliant so soon, and so suddenly. Really feel for his family."

David Perry, chief executive, Gaikai (Sony Computer Entertainment)

It's sad to see key players like Iwata and Ralph Baer passing away, it reminds us of how young and fragile our industry really is. I really enjoyed him, especially his love for the Brain Age games.

Rami Ismail, Vlambeer chief executive of business and development

"I vaguely remember playing Balloon Fight with my dad when I was a kid too young to understand how it worked. I kind of remember not getting Earthbound as one of the games on a weird 25-in-1 cartridge that my dad had somehow procured in Egypt after he mistakingly bought a Polystation instead of a Playstation. I remember playing Super Smash Brothers for the first time with my friends, and picking Kirby as my main in that game for the rest of my life (it's still the only Amiibo I own). I vividly remember discussing whether Brain Age should be considered a game as a young and naive designer at game design university. As an independent developer myself now, I was recently admiring the way Iwata dealt with Nintendo as a company and as a community leader, both when things were going well and when things were going poorly.

"Iwata's work has been with my all of my life, and it's odd to realize that someone that has always subtly been in the background radiation of your life is no longer there.

"I am currently watching how our team chat at Vlambeer, my Twitter, my Facebook — every social media I use, is overflowing with the love of an industry, an art-form and its players. I guess Iwata's quote on being a developer, a corporate president and a gamer was exactly right."

Osamu Asada, creator of 1001 Spikes

"I was both shocked and confused when I heard the news of Mr. Iwata's passing.

"I have always been a fan of games, but never expected to be developing them. Ironically, it was on this very day, I was going to visit Nintendo's Kyoto headquarters to present my game. But even before drawing lines of developer — not developer, as a gamer, I will miss Mr. Iwata's contributions to the game industry as a whole."

Tyrone Rodriguez, founder at Nicalis

"Mr. Iwata's death feels very personal and makes me sad.

"From the outside, he was very much 'Nintendo,' within the company he was a driving force for positive change. Mr. Iwata was a model president and game developer — both in character and business.

"My thoughts go out to his immediate family, to his staff at Nintendo and wish them well during this time."

John Ricciardi, creative director and co-founder of 8-4 Ltd.

"I was fortunate enough to meet Iwata a few times back in my media days before he was the president of Nintendo, and he was always the nicest, most down-to-earth guy. You could tell he loved and understood games on a deeper level, and that always stuck with me over the years.

"Just knowing that the guy who was in charge of the company was down in the trenches for many of their crowning achievements over the past three decades made you feel like no matter what happened, things were going to turn out OK for Nintendo. He was a gamer and a developer first, and he used those passions to try and make his company and the industry in general a better place for it."

Brenda Romero, design director at Romero Games

"Iwata's passing is so surprising and sad. Few people have had such an effect on shape of our industry, and the impact of his work will be felt for generations. A true legend. I only just found out about his passing, and I still can't believe it."

John Romero, Brainquake chief game designer

"Incredibly sad news that Iwata passed away so suddenly. His legacy was great and he will be remembered fondly by many people whose lives he touched with his pure love for gamers."

Matias Myllyrinne, former Remedy CEO

"He was an industry Titan that impacted the lives of millions by broadening the appeal of video games. He brought joy to millions of homes around the world.

"I remember before the DS came out that I could not see its success. After all — 'who wants two screens?'. Boy was I wrong! I and many others could not see as far as Iwata had planned. He had a vision and perseverance to see it through. Often against conventional wisdom.

"A leader of his caliber was not only a blessing to the company he led - but to the industry as a whole."

Jenova Chen, president and creative director at thatgamecompany

"Iwata san is one of the few giants in the game industry who not only believe we needed to make games more appealing to non-gamers, but also the one who have shown us how it could be done. He will be missed by those who love video games to heart and those who want to spread their love to others."

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft

"Honestly I wasn't a huge Nintendo gamer growing up.  I grew up on Atari 2600 and PC games.  When I entered the 'industry' and learned what it meant to build games, grow franchises and really become part of the industry is when I learned what why Nintendo was special.  Iwata-san has been President of Nintendo really for as long as we've been in the Xbox business.  I think it was GDC 2005 when he stated 'On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.'  It's a quote I think about daily as I make decision for Xbox.  Nintendo has defined excellence, longevity and self-confidence in their own vision.  In the times I've met Iwata-san I always took away someone who believed in the 'why' behind the games and platforms they built.  I think this was born out of the fact that he was a gamer at heart."

Meggan Scavio, general manager of the Game Developers Conference

"When Satoru Iwata stepped onto the GDC keynote stage in 2006 and told the audience he had the heart of a gamer, every single person hearing his words knew he was sincere. And when it came time to invite someone to keynote our 25th anniversary, he was honestly our only choice. He not only had the heart of a gamer, he had the heart of a developer. He was and remains an inspiration to us all."

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard

"It’s a very sad day. Mr. Iwata was a great visionary championing products like the Wii and the Nintendo DS. He changed entertainment forever. I consider myself lucky to have called him a good friend for over two decades. All of us at Activision Blizzard send his wife and children and the entire Nintendo family our most sincere condolences."

Peter Molyneux, founder and creative director at 22Cans

"Satoru Iwata, was a true visionary, his influence on the games industry is beyond question. Without him we may never have seen Earthbound or experienced the Pokemon games in the ways we appreciate today. Under his guidance Nintendo produced arguably the most disruptive systems we have ever seen, the Wii and DS proved being brave and forward thinking can lead to great success. He was and will remain one of the corner stones that make this industry so amazing. He will be sorely missed."

Robin Hunicke, co-founder Funomena

"Iwata's dedication to improving the way people play games was deeply inspiring to me. He spoke truth about our need to find new ways to engage audiences, while acknowledging just how many strengths games have as a medium. The Wii changed my life — as a developer, gamer and fan. Because of his work, games became something for everyone once again, and it is with a heavy heart for us all that I wish him peace."

Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association

"Iwata-san's passing affects us all deeply. He was a true visionary who expanded our understanding of the amazing art of video games. We offer our condolences to his family, friends, and Nintendo colleagues."

Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka, Japanese musician perhaps best known for his scores on Nintendo video games

Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's President and COO

"Mr. Iwata is gone, but it will be years before his impact on both Nintendo and the full video game industry will be fully appreciated. He was a strong leader for our company, and his attributes were clear to most everyone: intelligence, creativity, curiosity and sense of humor. But for those of us fortunate enough to work closely with him, what will be remembered most were his mentorship and, especially, his friendship. He was a wonderful man. He always challenged us to push forward ... to try the new ... to upset paradigms — and most of all, to engage, excite and endear our fans. That work will continue uninterrupted."

Jade Raymond, group general manager and vice president at Electronic Arts

"Iwata will be sorely missed. I have long admired his work and unique perspective on the industry.

"With games like Kirby and Brain Age, he has helped prove that everyone is a gamer at heart, they just need games that speak to them.

"In honour of Iwata's life work and accomplishments, I hope we keep his vision for a more inclusive and light hearted industry alive."

Katsuhiro Harada, game director and chief producer, fighting games at Bandai Namco

"In the pictures taken of the special corner of the [Japanese Iwata Asks] program, in which he talks to various game developers, many people were talking about whether the tea was shown or not. Mr. Iwata also seemed to know that people were talking about this.

"So, when I had the chance to appear on the program, I left a katsudon (japanese bowl of rice with pork cutlet on top) on the table while we were talking. While we spoke, I noticed Mr Iwata's eyes shift to the katsudon occasionally, and then after looking at me he burst out laughing. During our conversation, he began to laugh again, saying 'I can't help myself. I keep remembering that video.' The katsudon on the table reminded him of that video in which I crashed through the window of that building, and he couldn't stop laughing.

"Last year, I had the opportunity to talk with him at great length, and he listened to a lot of things I wanted to consult with him about. I was surprised that a person in his position of president, could not only understand the consumer perspective, but could also understand very technical aspects and passion for games from a developer's point of view as well. I was certain that he was one of the rare instances of a corporate officer who could truly understand things from the perspective of a game developer. It was also at that time that I talked to him about Pokkén, and he was truly interested. The unfortunate news of his passing comes right before Pokkén is to be released. I really would have liked to play the game together."

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