When most people are asked to identify the one person most responsible for Nintendo's legacy, almost everyone names Shigeru Miyamoto. Which makes total sense; Miyamoto is, after all and without question, one of the most important important and influential game designers of all time.
Though it could be argued that Hiroshi Yamauchi is the one who deserves the most credit. He's the longtime president of company, between 1949-2002, who among other things hired a cartoonist, a friend of a friend's son, who had zero experience in video games, and put him in charge of making games. Said artist being Miyamoto.
Yamauchi's made many such moves that would have similarly incredible ramifications on the world of video games. And that man has just passed away, at the age of 85.
Yamauchi's very long list of accomplishments would take forever to detail, but the fact that he basically saved video games from the brink of oblivion is perhaps the one thing worth mentioning the most, above all else. Everyone thought the man was nuts for wanting to create a gaming console back in the early 80s, right after the market had crashed.
But thanks to forward thinking, business savvy, and shrewd creative instincts, the Famicom (along its American cousin, the Nintendo Entertainment System) helped to revitalize the video game marketplace, and Yamauchi in many ways is directly responsible for the medium's incredible success today.
According to BBC News, Yamauchi passed away at a hospital, suffering from pneumonia. Funeral services will take place this Sunday.