Hiroshi Yamauchi performed quite the magic trick with his playing cards. No, not a sleight of hand illusion, but rather a business transformation of epic proportions. Mr. Yamauchi took his great-grandfather’s playing card company named Nintendo — established in 1889 — and created one of biggest gaming powerhouses in the world. On Thursday, Mr. Yamauchi passed away in Kyoto, Japan at the age of 85, due to complications from pneumonia.
His influence on the gaming industry, including video graphics, portability, cutting edge home entertainment units, and the general evolution of the industry, cannot be ignored.
“Yamauchi was responsible for my personal golden age of video games,” stated Meggan Scavio, General Manager, Game Developers Conference Events (GDC). “If it weren’t for the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and the SNES, who knows where this industry would be right now? He was such a pioneer and his accomplishments still continue to inspire new generations of game developers and gamers.”
What’s really amazing about his career was how much be did in changing Nintendo. He became the head of the company when he was just twenty-two years old. He started to widen the offerings of the company to board games, toy guns, and baseball pitching machines, when he came upon what would be the start of something big: arcade games.
Under Yamauchi’s management, Nintendo went on to have enormous success with such titles as Donkey Kong, Super Mario, the Game Boy, Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Wii. Mr. Yamauchi retired in 2002, but stayed on as an advisor.
“The entire Nintendo group will carry on the spirit of Mr. Yamauchi by honoring, in our approach to entertainment, the sense of value he has taught us — that there is merit in doing what is different — and at the same time, by changing Nintendo in accordance with changing times,” said current Nintendo President Satoru Iwata (via CNN).
And his prominence didn’t end with video games — but he had his hand in old school reality-based games as well. In 2002, he, along with Nintendo, became the majority owners of the Seattle Mariners, although he himself was not a baseball fan.
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