The history of the inventor “ Yokoi Gunpei ” : The father of Game Boy (Nintendo)


When you play a video game, you may not think much about the cross shaped button on the controller.But without this button, playing video games might be a lot more difficult.

The person who invented this button was a man named Yokoi Gumpei. He (1941~1997) was a legendary video game designer who is credited heavily for Nintendo’s success.


He studied engineering at University. But after graduating, he couldn’t find a job. So in 1965, he started working for the only place that offered him a job, a toy company called Nintendo.

Back then, Nintendo’s main product was a Japanese card game, called Hanafuda. Yokoi soon began  creating new hit toys, such as a Magic Hand.



You used it to reach across the room and get something. Some people say this toy saved Nintendo. Because they were having money problems.He also created a baseball pitching machine and a cleaning toy that is similar to the cleaning robots popular today.

One day, in the late 1970s, when Yokoi was on the Shinkansen, he saw someone secretly playing with a portable calculator. Suddenly Yokoi had an idea. “I want to creat a game that give me played one people have nothing to do.


“If it can be played secretly, maybe will become popular.”

This idea became a series of games about the size of a smartphone, called the Game & Watch series.



Yokoi is best known as creator of the Game & Watch  handheld system, inventor of the Control Pad (whose plus-shaped design nearly all video game controllers attempt to mimic today), the original designer of the Game Boy, and producer of a few long-running and critically acclaimed video game franchises.

In the 1980s, video games became more popular than traditional games and toys. Many toy creators only understood traditional games. So they had to change jobs. But Yokoi was different.


He continued to creat popular game systems. Maybe this was possible because Yokoi believed in using old technology and new ways.

When Yokoi designed the controller for a new family game computer , he took the idea of the joy stick and tried to think of way to make it small and flat. Yokoi thought hard and created the cross shaped button. With this button, the player could control the game easily.



As Nintendo became famous around the world, Yokoi also became known as a talented game designer. Later, he helped develop Game Boy, a portable game system that became very popular.

He taught Mario and The Legend of Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto upon his arrival to the company.Yokoi produced “Donkey Kong” “ Mario Bros” “ Metroid” and so on…




Yokoi left Nintendo in 1996 to start his own company.

Sadly he died in a car accident a year later, at age of 56.



Yokoi’s story also underscores how much success is about being the right person with the right idea at the right time.

The game industry has changed a lot in the past 20 years. But many people still respect this wonderful game designer. His great inventions continue to entertain people all over the world.