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Thursday, July 16, 2015

The PC Master Race Salutes A Fallen Hero

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

I stand here today as a proud member of the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race. Though our jerks be circled and tongues planted firmly in cheek, we do take a certain pride in our gaming, as it's done at high resolutions and framerates thanks to hardware that we've invested in and, often, put together ourselves. Most of us are our own tech support, our own labour and assembly.

But we know when to step back and appreciate a true visionary and mourn the loss of one of the hearts of our world. Satoru Iwata was taken from us too soon, but not without leaving an impression on our world that no one will ever forget.

I began gaming on my dad's Commodore 64, but pestered my parents long enough they finally capitulated and bought me one of those Nintendos everyone was talking about. That's right, for a while I was a console kid. Had one all the way through the Nintendo 64. Nintendo has delivered some of the most memorable experiences in my gaming life. Super Mario Brothers 2, Metal Storm, Final Fantasy II. Secret of Evermore, Mega Man X, Final Fantasy VI. Mario 64, Smash Bros, Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark. After the N64, I went pack to PC and have stayed there since, but I've always had a strong respect for Nintendo. While the other major consoles were in an arms race to try and outdo each other with outdated and underpowered proprietary box-PCs, Nintendo broke away from that pattern early on and tried to make the gaming space a more interesting place with motion controls that worked, handhelds with touch- and dual-screens, and that adorable Wii U pad with the miniature screen. Nintendo never stopped inventing weird shit to put out, and they've always been looked upon finely from the ivory towers of PC gaming.

Iwata was seen as a figurehead, someone who really cared about what he was doing, and someone unafraid to make sacrifices. When Nintendo posted a loss, he took a cut to his own salary to keep paying the people working for him. When distrust grew with the gaming press, he brought us Nintendo Direct, which kept fans informed and entertained. But he wasn't simply a corporate figurehead. Iwata was a genius coder as well, once compressing the map of an entire Pokemon game to fit on the limited cartridge space of another one. He coded for Pokemon Stadium, which I had no idea I'd enjoy playing, but came bundled with the N64 I purchased on layaway back when I had my first job. He produced one of the most beloved RPGs ever made, Earthbound.

Mister Iwata, if there is an afterlife, and if I may humbly imply that you might notice my own post regarding your passing, I want you to know that you were instrumental in making many memories, and that's not a legacy to be taken lightly. The world weeps at your departure, but many a game will be played to honour you. I may not currently own any of your own work, but the next game that I finish, I will do so in your name. You never stopped believing in us, the gamers, and we will in turn never forget what you have left us. I say this, sir, direct to you.

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