IMO yes Nintendo did save gaming, some people think they didn't for several reasons. But I'll counter argue the common reasons why people don't believe Nintendo saved gaming:
"If Nintendo didn't do it someone else would have"
-This argument completely based off of faith, and you'd need to have a ton of faith that a company would've entered a dead and dying video game industry after the crash. After the 1983 crash, literally no one wanted to have anything to do with video games anymore, from companies to consumers and retailers. If the video game industry was DEAD DEAD with no one, more specifically in NA interested in video games anymore, why in the world would a company attempt to market a video game system if no one is interested. To most companies, it wouldn't have made sense from a business standpoint as many companies and analysts at the time would consider that a company suicide. Even if a company did somehow have faith they could revive the gaming industry, the amount of huge hurdles a company would have to jump through just to get a video game system into retailers and in the hands of the consumer would likely have been too much for any company to handle. It literally took Nintendo to give NES's for free to retailers with Nintendo doing all the work when it comes to displaying the system to get retailers to finally stock the NES, retailers thought Nintendo was crazy for doing this, with even one store manager saying "It's your funeral" I'm sure 99.9% of companies would've given up on reviving the industry knowing all the hurdles in front of them. Even if that company SOMEHOW did revive video games(which is extremely unlikely), do you think now irrelevant companies like Atari or Sega would've kept it afloat and as big for so long?! They're now considered irrelevant companies for a reason, they're run by idiots. How about Sony & Microsoft, two companies who had NOTHING to do with video games until Nintendo got the industry big. They wouldn't have even attempted video games if it weren't for Nintendo's influence.
"Only the console market crashed, people just moved on to PCs & Arcades after the crash, video games were still popular"
-This is a flat out false statement, video games as a whole were dead ESPECIALLY in NA. Most people completely moved on from video games, believing it to be a fad. Whether on arcade, PC, or console, video games were dead all around. Proof of this is looking at global gaming revenue between 1982-1985, where the ENTIRE video game industry revenue was dropping substantially all across the board, not just on consoles. I see most people try to argue that PC gaming revenue between 1982-1985 was going up which supposedly shows that video games weren't dying and that people were just moving from console to PC, however they ignore the fact that despite PC revenue going up, the entire industry revenue was drastically dropping globally which shows that the majority people left video games in general with the EXTREMELY SMALL minority moving to PC. Showing that video games as a whole were dying. Here's the chart that proves my point right here:
"The Video Game Crash Only Happened in NA, other regions were still playing games"
-I won't deny that the crash technically only happened in NA, however it's important to point out usually when a crash happens in a major market like the U.S, it's only a matter a time before the affects of the crash spread onto other regions, and with no real major console player in the other regions with strict quality control and less video game companies in general, it's likely the crash would've spread to the other regions as well. Also, while the crash did only happened in NA, global video game revenue was dropping globally, proving that the industry was declining overall and would've continued to go in a downward spiral if it weren't for the NES. The industry would be no where near as big as it is today globally without Nintendo, and that's a fact.