Hiroshi Yamauchi, the visionary businessman who played a vital role in the insurmountable growth of Nintendo, has died at the age of 85 in Japan. Having overseen control of the company from 1949 to 2002, his fifty-three year reign witnessed Nintendo transform from a humble card making buisness to one of the most recognised companies in the video game medium and, in terms of financial revenue, the largest in the industry.
Mr. Yamauchi died from pneumonia in a central Japanese hospital, according to the official statement released by the company; his funeral will take place on Sunday. The trailblazing businessman helped establish many of the practices that Nintendo are known for today; including numerous R&D groups that are encouraged to rival one another to cultivate creative innovation.
After becoming chairman of the company in 1970, Mr. Yamauchi helped spearhead the evolution of the NES era during the 1980s. A time when iconic characters such as Donkey Kong were born; with the beloved, chest-beating ape helping the company assimilate its legacy into the US arcade market. His passing has struck a chord with the entire community. Ian Livingstone, former head of Eidos, spoke of the influence of Yamauchi to the BBC:
“He understood the social value of play, and economic potential of electronic gaming. Most importantly he steered Nintendo on its own course and was unconcerned by the actions of his competitors. He was a true visionary.”
In 2002, Mr. Yamauchi – who remains Nintendo’s largest shareholder as of March 31st, 2013 – stepped away from the president’s chair before taking an advisory role on the board of directors. His immediate successor, Satoru Iwata, is the current president of the company. In response to the grave news, Nintendo released a short statement this morning:
“Nintendo is in mourning today from the sad loss of the former Nintendo president Mr Hiroshi Yamauchi, who sadly passed away this morning”.
To Hiroshi Yamauchi (1927-2013), the man who helped establish Nintendo as the beloved industry giant we know and love; may he rest in peace.