Longtime president of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi has passed away at the age of 85 due to complications from pneumonia. While Yamauchi has been largely out of the spotlight for the past decade, he remains one of the most influential figures in video game history…
Yamauchi took control of playing card manufacturer Nintendo in 1949 and strove for years to expand the company’s business, investing in everything from mechanical toys, to bar love testers to sexy hotels, eventually settling on video games in the late 70s. Over the next couple decades Yamauchi would build Nintendo into a multi-billion dollar company and play an instrumental role in transforming video games from a niche hobby into a massive industry on par with movies, books or any other form of entertainment.
During his later years as Nintendo president Yamauchi became somewhat infamous for his brusque attitude — Yamauchi once called RPG fans “depressed gamers who like to sit alone in dark rooms” and often gloated about the fact that he never played any of the games his company produced. Despite his crankiness, Yamauchi has a sixth sense about what would sell and was willing to take (at the time) risky chances on everything from the NES to Donkey Kong and Pokemon.
Yamauchi retired as leader of Nintendo in 2002, but will continue to cast a long shadow over the company for years to come. Simply put, if you like video games (particularly console/handheld games) you owe this somewhat odd, grumpy Japanese businessman a debt of gratitude. Thanks for the past 25-years of fun Yamauchi.
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