Hiroshi Yamauchi, the legendary president of the Nintendo company from 1949 until 2002, has passed away following a drawn-out battle with pneumonia at a hospital in central Japan, the BBC confirmed through an email from his family today (19 Sept.). The man credited with changing the face of the Nintendo company, changing it from the humble playing cards game to the massively successful, world-renowned video gaming company it is today.

Yamauchi transformed Nintendo, and the gaming industry as a whole

The company is currently in mourning over the "loss of the former Nintendo president Mr Hiroshi Yamauchi, who sadly passed away this morning," a statement released by the company today read. Yamauchi, who stepped down as president of the company in 2002 to join the board of directors, died as the 2nd highest share holder of the company and was the driving force behind the company's massive success from the late 1970's onwards, overseeing the creation of such platforms as the NES, the SNES, the N64 and the Gamecube. He was also the man who brought Shigeru Miyamoto into the company, the man who created Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, F-Zero, Pikmin and more.

Hiroshi Yamauchi transformed a run-of the-mill trading card company into an entertainment empire in video games," Ian Livingstone, the co-founder of Games Workshop and former chairman of publisher Eidos, said in tribute of the pioneer. He continued, "He understood the social value of play, and economic potential of electronic gaming. Most importantly he steered Nintendo on its own course and was unconcerned by the actions of his competitors. He was a true visionary."

Since the news of his death came in, tributes have flown in from social media sites, such as Twitter and FaceBook, as admirers and childhood (and adulthood) fans of the man who transformed the video gaming industry. His work touched many and his legacy won't be forgotten. Hiroshi Yamauchi, 1927 - 2013.