When it comes to video games, Nintendo is the oldest player in town and I mean that quite literally. The company entered the industry in the 1970s, but has actually been around for more than 125 years, beginning life as a card and toy manufacturer long before making the jump to video games. Any company with that kind of longevity is bound to have some fascinating history behind it and Nintendo is no exception, to the point where an entire book was written about their competition with Sega in the early 90s. Still, there’s much more to the company’s history than one console war and I’ve collected 20 fascinating bits of trivia about the company and its games that you can pull out at the next party you go to and alienate yourself from everyone in the room (just kidding!).
Here are 20 things you probably didn’t know about Nintendo, starting with:
20. The Game Boy Creator Started Out as a Janitor
The late Gunpei Yokoi lived a pretty interesting life, especially when it came to his career trajectory. Believe it or not, the man who would go onto create Donkey Kong, Metroid, and the Game Boy started working at Nintendo as a member of the janitorial staff! He moved up into a position on the assembly line next, but was much too brilliant a mind to stay there for long. After tinkering with some gaming inventions on the side, Nintendo higher-ups began to take notice and Yokoi quickly started ascending the ranks. Over the next twenty years, he would come up with the aforementioned products and eventually serve as Nintendo’s general manager.
Sadly, Yokoi’s life was tragically cut short in 1997. After being involved in a minor car crash, Yokoi got out of his car to assess the damage, was struck by another vehicle and died shortly thereafter. This was also not long after Yokoi suffered arguably his greatest product failure with the Virtual Boy but fortunately, his legacy as an important pioneer in the games industry lives on to this day.