The Ask Iwata tribute book pays homage to the late Satoru Iwata (Dec. 6, 1959 – Jul. 11, 2015), beloved former president of Nintendo. It was announced earlier this year that an English version is coming, entitled Ask Iwata: Words of Wisdom from Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s Legendary CEO. He is well-known for many things, one of which is the often recited quote below, which guided much of his work:
“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.” —Satoru Iwata
Ask Iwata was first compiled and published by Japanese company, Hobonichi. They’ve now announced more translations are coming in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, Russian, Korean, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese, bringing his wisdom to more people. Nintendo Life reports that the French version will be the first one released, as it launches on April 1st. The English version is launching on April 13th, according to the Amazon page linked above.
— ほぼ日MOTHERプロジェクト (@hobonichimother) March 31, 2021
A Tribute to a Great Man
Contained within the motivational pages of the Ask Iwata tribute book are many words of wisdom from the former Nintendo President. His words touch on many different subjects. Among them are his ideas on why programmers should never say no, and why success tends to cause a resistance to change.
Ask Iwata also features conversations with other big names he worked with. These include people like Nintendo’s famous game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of many well-known franchises like Mario and Zelda), and Shigesato Itoi (creator of EarthBound and founder of Hobonichi). Shigeru Miyamoto said the company felt “stuffy” before Satoru Iwata stepped in as president, and that Iwata had “improved the ventilation” so to speak.
A Gaming Executive Like No Other
The Ask Iwata book celebrates a largely unmatched CEO. He was known for doing goofy things that made his communication with fans seem more fun, more personal, and less corporate. In the 2014 Nintendo E3 Direct (above), Satoru Iwata battled then President of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aimé. Just after the direct’s intro, that fight opened the reveal of Mii Fighters joining Super Smash Bros. 4.
He is highly respected for his humility, caring more about making people happy than making as much money as humanly possible. When Nintendo struggled through the Wii U era, Satoru Iwata famously slashed his salary in half so his employees wouldn’t get hit with pay cuts. Other big names did too, like Shigeru Miyamoto, though not by quite as much. That selfless act allowing game development to continue with peace of mind was far from all he did, though.
He was beloved by fans for how he connected Nintendo to them more directly than ever before. This was done multiple ways, from his Nintendo Direct presentations to the Iwata Asks series, where he interviewed game developers. This gave fans an unprecedented view into how some of their favorite games came to be. As a very talented programmer, he contributed to many of them over the years, from Kirby and EarthBound, to Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.
Satoru Iwata passed away in 2015 at age 55, just a year after a cancerous growth was removed from this bile duct. Sadly the cancer would return and snuff out a precious life. When Nintendo announced his passing it rocked the fan community, catching it off guard and breaking countless hearts. He has been sorely missed in the gaming world ever since, but the Ask Iwata book allows fans to hold another small piece of him outside of his games. Perhaps some of his wisdom can still help make the world a better place.