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Nintendo CEO Iwata: 'In My Heart I Am A Gamer'


The chief executive officer of Nintendo has died. As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, Satoru Iwata was known for his accessibility to fans, and he's being remembered for a playfulness unusual among big company CEOs.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Tributes and outpourings of appreciation for Satoru Iwata are easy to find right now on Twitter and YouTube. Here's part of a video posted by a sad-looking young fan who says he wants to be a game developer. He calls himself NintenRoy.


NINTENROY: I'm 14, but still, he was one of my main inspirations.

SYDELL: Iwata engaged with fans. He helped create and participated in an online video series called "Nintendo Direct."


SATORU IWATA: Today, I will share with you information about the Nintendo 3DS directly.

SYDELL: On the screen, he's flanked by life-sized Nintendo characters Mario and Luigi.

JORGE ALBOR: He seemed like somebody who genuinely cared about games and the gaming community and was playful.

SYDELL: Jorge Albor runs an online community dedicated to gaming on the site Wikia. Albor says, earlier in Iwata's career, he was a software engineer making Nintendo video games.

ALBOR: He was pivotal in the creation of some of the most important games for people. You know, "Earthbound," "Zelda," "Kirby" - all of these games are some of the foundational games for a lot of people's lives.


SYDELL: Though everything Iwata touched did not turn to gold. Nintendo was slow to respond when people started playing more games on tablets and mobile phones. But he was CEO when Nintendo launched its original Wii, one of the best-selling game consoles of all time. For over a year, Iwata battled what Nintendo called a bile duct growth, yet even a few weeks ago he found the strength to participate in Nintendo's shareholder meeting. But his heart was with his customers and the games they played. Here he is on stage in 2005 at the big videogame conference, E3.


IWATA: 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.

SYDELL: Iwata was 55 years old. Nintendo has not yet announced who will succeed him as CEO. Laura Sydell, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and NPR.org.