Gunpei Yokoi (横井 軍平 , Yokoi Gunpei , 10 September 1941 – 4 October 1997) , sometimes transliterated Gumpei Yokoi, was a Japanese video game designer. He was a long-time Nintendo employee, best known as creator of the Game & Watch handheld system, inventor of the "cross" shaped Control Pad, the original designer of the Game Boy, and producer of a few long-running and critically acclaimed video game franchises, such as Metroid and Kid Icarus.
Yokoi graduated from Doshisha University with a degree in electronics. He was first hired by Nintendo in 1965 to maintain the assembly-line machines used to manufacture its hanafuda cards.
In 1966, Hiroshi Yamauchi, president of Nintendo at the time, came to a hanafuda factory where Yokoi was working at and took notice of a toy, an extending arm, that Yokoi made for his own amusement during spare time as the company's machine maintenance man. Yamauchi ordered Yokoi to develop it as a proper product for the Christmas rush. The Ultra Hand was a huge success, and Yokoi was asked to work on other Nintendo toys including the Ten Billion Barrel puzzle, a miniature remote-controlled vacuum cleaner called the Chiritory, a baseball throwing machine called the Ultra Machine, and a "Love Tester." He worked on toys until the company decided to make video games in 1974, when he became one of its first game designers, only preceded by Genyo Takeda. While traveling on the Shinkansen, Yokoi saw a bored businessman playing with an LCD calculator by pressing the buttons. Yokoi then got the idea for a watch that doubled as a miniature video gaming pastime, and went on to create Game & Watch, a line of handheld electronic games of simple LCD animated minigames, which ran from 1980 to 1991 and had 60 variations.
In 1981, Yamauchi appointed Yokoi to supervise Donkey Kong, an arcade game created by Shigeru Miyamoto. Yokoi explained many of the intricacies of game design to Miyamoto at the beginning of his career, and the project only came to be approved after Yokoi brought Miyamoto's game ideas to the president's attention.