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.”
So starts one of Satoru Iwata’s most famous speeches, which was delivered – in English – at GDC in 2005.
The president of Nintendo died this weekendfrom cancer of the bile duct.
"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," the speech – delivered in English – began.
"I remember the first video game I ever played. It was Pong. And I loved it. By the time I was in high school, I was the first person in my class to buy an early Hewlitt Packard Pocket Calculator. But where most people used their calculators for higher mathematics, I used mine to program video games. My first creation was a baseball game. I don’t think anyone can say it had bad graphics because it had no graphics. Gameplay was represented only by numbers. But when I saw my friends playing that game and having fun, it made me feel proud. To me, this was a source of energy and passion. As that passion for games began to blossom, I think my life course was set.
"In 1978 I entered the Tokyo Institute of Technology. I would have loved to study video game programming, but nobody was teaching it then. So I went to classes on engineering and early computer science. But after class, when my friends went back to their rooms to study, I took off on my motorcycle for one retail store in Tokyo. This was the first store to have a department entirely dedicated to personal computers. That was my hangout – and I was not alone. There were others there who also looked at those early computers, and thought the same thing I did – how could we play games on them?
"We became friends, formed a club, and soon rented an apartment in the Akihabara district of Tokyo where we began designing our own games. We worked until midnight or later every night and that group of friends is what became the company known as HAL today. The name came from the computer in the movie 2001: Space Odyssey. We thought that name was very cool. Like all game creators, I was extremely cool, too."
Iwats goes on to outline the ethos that defined his time in charge of Nintendo – the need to expand the reach of games to a wider market.
"I am most concerned with what we think of as a gamer," he added."As we spend more time and money chasing exactly the same players, who are we leaving behind? Are we creating games just for each other? Do you have friends and family members who do not play video games? Well, why don’t they? And, I would ask this: how often have you challenged yourself to create a game that you might not play? I think these questions for an important challenge for all of us."
Here’s the speech in full: