“On my business card, I am the president of a company. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a player.” This famous quote from Satoru Iwata, the former president of Nintendo, is a very efficient summary of his life trajectory narrated in the book Ask Iwata.
The charismatic CEO died tragically in 2015 from a tumor, leaving at just 55 years old and leaving sad thousands of fans around the planet. After all, far from being just a tie focused on numbers and business decisions, Iwata used all his charisma to embrace a universal language and speak directly to his audience.
This brought him very close not only to nintendistas, but also to all those interested in following the world of video games more deeply. Always remembered as someone committed to making people smile with his games, Iwata left a beautiful legacy, and the book Ask Iwata it is a delicate tribute to both the man and the symbol he represented, reminding us of how his ideals are still alive.
The book was published in April 2021 in the United States, translating the original Japanese work of 2019. Unfortunately, for now there is no official version in Portuguese, so we need to appeal to imports. As the suggested price is US $ 23 (about R $ 125 in the current conversion of the tourism dollar), the value is quite high considering that there are just over 150 pages of content.
As you can see in the video above, the publisher Viz Media did a great job in presenting the book, which has a hard cover and a very eye-catching dust jacket, reminding us that the work brings together “words of wisdom from the legendary Nintendo CEO”. Underneath it, an embossed cape has a nice little caricature of Iwata, capable of warming anyone’s heart.
Overall, this book could probably be found in a bookstore in the self-help section or for coaches and entrepreneurs, but grace is just the different way Iwata saw the business world and, by the way, the people who worked with it. His message was more aimed at helping others than yourself!
From his early days at the helm of HAL Laboratory to Nintendo’s most successful years, during the reign of the Wii and DS, Iwata reveals in the pages of the book his effort to always interview all members of the company, all in order to understand how the work environment could be more pleasant for everyone and thus make the whole team pay more.
Iwata, still at HAL Laboratory, programming for MSX in the first steps of his illustrious journey.Source: Reddit
It is very interesting to see the history of his life organized in a chronological way over seven chapters: “Iwata, the future president”; “Iwata’s leadership”; “Iwata, the individual”; “The people Iwata believes in”; “The games that Iwata intends to create”; “Remembering Iwata”; “Iwata, the person”.
With a little help from your friends
Virtually all of the text present in Ask Iwata was taken from the pages of Iwata Asks, a series of interviews conducted by the president of Big N himself, and Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun or Hobonichi, one of the biggest blogs in Japan whose editor-in-chief is none other than Shigesato Itoi, the creator of the series Mother and one of Iwata’s best friends.
The last pages of the reading are some of his most exciting and interesting, as they were not written by Iwata, but by Itoi and Shigeru Miyamoto, who share some interesting stories about the years they spent with their longing companion.
Iwata and Miyamoto were more than co-workers, they were true friends.Source: Nintendo
The relationship between Iwata and Miyamoto is a full plate for nintendistas, since we are first exposed to Iwata’s vision of the big internal development star at Big N. As Iwata was more specialized in programming, drafting and reviewing codes, he admitted to finding fascinating how Miyamoto had his own ideas and views on games in a more abstract way.
Miyamoto, on the other hand, reveals that “he never saw Iwata as his boss, but as a friend”, since the two talked a lot and exchanged ideas about what direction the projects should take. Soon, it is clear how much their talents complemented each other and how video games benefited from the union of these two great minds!
As Itoi recalls, Iwata was very good at evaluating the progress of a project and then offering options for developing it. He relives in detail the emblematic case of Mother 2 (or Earthbound in the Americas), when his team was struggling and he went to Iwata for help.
Iwata took advantage of his passion for getting to know people better to create the Iwata Asks interview site.Source: Iwata Asks
After studying the available materials, Iwata offered you two options: spend two years reworking the game’s code or start over from scratch, but complete all the work in just 6 months. The rest is history: with the mutual trust between Itoi and Iwata, the work resumed almost from scratch, and the result was one of the best and most celebrated games in the Super Nintendo library!
A legacy still alive
Virtually all of Iwata’s experiences turned out to be useful for his professional career. In the case of work in Earthbound, for example, he recalls how much some game mechanics ended up influencing the development of the Nintendo Wii.
During the gameplay of Earthbound, after spending many hours playing, the protagonist’s phone rings and his parents remind him that maybe it’s time to get some rest. Iwata loved this concept and would love to apply something similar to the Wii, which made him look for new ways to implement parental control in gambling.
Between crazy ideas, like forcing the console to shut down after a certain number of hours, and creating a record computing how much time was spent on each application, Iwata was always thinking of ways to connect what he had lived. “No part of my experience has turned out to be a waste of time,” he used to say.
With a very light and relaxed writing, Ask Iwata it is a highly recommended reading, especially for Nintendo fans, since through its pages we can kill a little bit of nostalgia for this professional, who is one of the most beloved and celebrated figures in the industry.
A work done directly for you and that will certainly leave you with a smile on your face. Just as Iwata would like.