03:34 - Source: CNN
Gaming industry mourns death of Nintendo CEO

Story highlights

On social media, fans pay tribute to Satoru Iwata, who died at 55

Gamers used hashtags #ThankyouIwata and #ThankyouSatoru

CNN —  

Nintendo fans all around the world are in mourning after the passing of the man who helped create some of the gaming company’s most beloved characters and games from Mario, Kirby, The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon.

Satoru Iwata, president of Japanese gaming giant Nintendo, passed away from bile duct cancer on Saturday, a brief statement from the company said. He was 55 years old.

A software programmer by training, Iwata served as Nintendo’s chief executive officer and president from 2002 onwards. He was the first person to assume the top role who wasn’t a member of the founding Yamauchi family. Under his direction, the company produced hits like the Wii and Nintendo DS consoles.

Read: Nintendo’s CEO Satoru Iwata played by his own rules

Nintendo headquarters in Japan lowered a flag at their office to half mast Monday in a sign of respect of his passing.

While Nintendo America said on Twitter it would suspend its social media activity to honor the leader.

Sony’s official PlayStation Twitter as well as Xbox employees were among those who expressed their condolences for the video game legend.

And social media quickly flooded with posts from users fondly remembering the games that shaped their childhood.

Other fans directed their grief into creating tributes for Iwata, whether it was latte art or sketches on Mii, Nintendo’s own social network for Wii U and 3DS.

Iwata was popular for his visionary and down-to-earth way of connecting with the company’s massive player base. Always maintaining he was first and foremost a gamer at heart, he allowed fans an inside look at the company through his blog Iwata Asks and frequently spoke via “directs”, or videos Nintendo broadcasted straight to players. The updates often spurred goofy memes like one of Iwata holding bananas, provided as a clue to updates on the game Donkey Kong.

There were some flops during his tenure such as the Gamecube and Wii U but Iwata often beseeched gamers to “please understand”, a line that became one of his trademark phrases. Last year, after poor sales of the Wii U led Nintendo to record its first ever operating loss, Iwata slashed his own salary in half for five months.

Using the hashtag #ThankyouIwata and #ThankyouSatoru, the video game community expressed their gratitude to his legacy that kept fun as the central focus of the games.

See: 8 memorable quotes from Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata

CNN’s Wilfred Chan contributed reporting.