While the Game Developers Conference is seen as the go-to tech event where video game industry veterans and newcomers mingle, network and share their creative, cutting-edge and often crazy ideas and experiences, they managed to push our emotional buttons this year with a beautiful animated tribute to late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. Shown during the Game Developers Choice Awards on March 16, the touching three-minute animated video showcased Iwata's many contributions to the gaming industry including the 3DS and Wii controller.
Created by Raber Umphenour, Shawne Benson, David Hellman and Chris Kohler, the beloved Iwata appears as a pencil drawing together with references to some of his tenure's most famous products including Balloon Fight, Nintendogs, Brain Training, the Wii's motion controller remote and the classic DS. One by one, he pushes his creations up to the sky until he grabs hold of a bubble and ascends, happily looking down on the people enjoying his life's work.
Iwata became Nintendo's fourth president in May 2002, following the retirement of his predecessor Hiroshi Yamauchi, and became the chief executive of Nintendo of America in June 2013. He died of cancer at the age of 55 in July 2015. A self-taught video game programmer himself, he won the hearts of Nintendo fans as a fellow gamer, a creative coding master and a playful personality on his company's Nintendo Direct videos.
When the 3DS and Wii didn't do as well as their predecessors, Iwata responded to losses by taking 50% pay cuts in 2011 and again in 2014 rather than cut staff, as many suggested.
As one of the most passionate leaders in the video game industry, Iwata was known for his playful, warm affability, his unabashed love for games and vision of making games with a heart that are fun for everyone.
He was granted a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award during the DICE Awards in February - the gaming world's equivalent of the Oscars.
The short but emotional tribute closes with a line from his now famous keynote speech at GDC 2005 - "...in my heart, I am a gamer."