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April 12, 2021, 10:29 p.m. EDT

Late Nintendo president’s book outlines vision for the video-game giant

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By Associated Press

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Iwata was promoted to head HAL before taking the helm at Nintendo. His colleagues say he was a good listener, interviewing everyone at the company twice a year, trying to be fair and respectful.

“My plan was to be a sounding board and to get a sense of what was happening, but when I sat down with each person individually, I was blown away by how much I was learning,” Iwata wrote.

Shigesato Itoi, a writer, actor and creator of Nintendo’s “EarthBound” game series, featured comments from Iwata’s book on his personal website, and deeply admired him.

“I have never seen him blame anyone or speak ill of anyone,” said Itoi, who knew Iwata for 25 years, and says he loved him like a younger brother.

Instead of Hollywood-style grand battles, Japan excels at more peaceful blockbusters, like Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing,” Itoi said. He likened the game, which simulates living in a village, to children playing house.

“It wasn’t exactly something that many experts in the game industry expected the world to find fun,” he said. “What Japan has to offer still has great potential.”

Iwata sought to appeal to people who’d never played games before and to those who used to play but quit, said Kensuke Yabe, professor at Chukyo University’s School of Global Studies.

“He had superbly good instincts about what was happening on the ground. To maximize their appeal, he made sure Nintendo consoles were designed for the living room,” said Yabe.

When the Wii came out, Iwata insisted the controller be called a “remote,” a more familiar term evoking TV sets, rather than “controller.” He liked games for learning English, hanging out with a dog and cooking food.

“A video game is interesting when you can have fun simply watching someone play,” Iwata wrote.

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