When Satoru Iwata passed away three years ago, I was made aware of a Youtuber who was looking for help translating various Iwata related articles and interviews for use in a tribute that he was put together. At that point I was beginning to better figure out the types game-related material that I was interested in translating, and they tended to be interviews or behind-the-scenes type things. So I was pretty happy when I found out the material that needed to be translated was a series of transcribed conversations between Satoru Iwata and famed copywriter/game designer/a little bit of everything Shigesato Itoi. The conversations were posted on Hobonichi’s website, Hobonichi being the Itoi-founded company that designs and produced various lifestyle goods such as their Techo Planners/Organizers.
The original conversations can all be found here. Apparently Itoi had a regular series of columns on the site entitled “Learn From the President! (An Adult’s Journey Never Ends)”, in which he spoke to presidents of various companies about a variety of topics. While I haven’t read very much of the other conversations that appear in this series, the conversations between Itoi and Iwata are special because they have a friendship formed many years ago while working on the original Mother (Earthbound Zero). In fact Iwata himself even served as the IT Manager for Hobonichi, alongside his duties at Nintendo.
Though I’ve sat on these for a few years now, what follows are my translations of all 15 parts of the conversation between Itoi and Iwata. Not much of the content from them ended up being used in the previously mentioned Youtube video, but I wanted to make sure that it was available to anyone who wanted a better insight into either of these two influential figures. They especially contain a lot of great information about Iwata’s management style, outlook on technology and how human beings use it, and even how he became interested in programming.
I have sort of a strange relationship with these conversations. Some of them are the most difficult things I’ve translated to date, and at points I even stopped to ask what I had gotten myself into. As a programmer (though not of games) I found myself sometimes relating very closely to things Iwata said. I also sometimes found myself in disbelief at how ridiculous and pseudo philosophical the conversation between them was turning, and wondering if this was some kind of a weird joke or performance. If you’re here wanting to read about Iwata talking about being in the weeds during his programming work on various games, you’ll probably come away disappointed. There is certainly some game talk, but a lot of the conversation really centers around technology, management, people, and philosophy. I think Iwata discussing a lot of these things can only really be found in these conversations. Enjoy!