R.I.P., Hiroshi Yamauchi
Hiroshi Yamauchi, who between 1949 and 2002 transformed Nintendo from a minor collectible trading card company into a video game powerhouse, has died aged 85:
He died of pneumonia at a hospital in central Japan, the company said, adding that a funeral will take place on Sunday….
“Hiroshi Yamauchi transformed a run-of the-mill trading card company into an entertainment empire in video games,” said Ian Livingstone, co-founder of Games Workshop and former chairman of publisher Eidos. “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.”
Rob Crossley, associate editor of Computer and Video Games magazine, told the BBC: “You cannot overestimate the influence the man had on the games industry.” “He spearheaded Nintendo as they moved into the arcade business, with hits such as Donkey Kong. This man was the president of Nintendo during the NES, the SNES, the N64 and the Gamecube – the first two were transformative pieces of electronic entertainment.”
Mr Yamauchi took over at Nintendo after his grandfather suffered a stroke. After several years developing the firm’s existing trading card business, Mr Yamauchi turned to electronic entertainment. He utilised the work of legendary games designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who had made Donkey Kong, as a way of breaking into the US arcade game market.
Mr Miyamoto’s later work was pivotal in the success of Nintendo’s home entertainment systems – titles such as Super Mario, Legend of Zelda and Starfox became commercial smashes and household names.
Mr Yamauchi stood down as president in 2002, taking a place on the firm’s board of directors. In 2005, he left the company entirely.