The founder of the company that created the insatiable pixel Pac-Man, Masaya Nakamura, passed away on January 22. He was 91 years old.
Nakamura was a businessman who saw the potential of entertainment as a means of earning money after the war. According to his company's website, Namco.com
, the entreprenuer entered the amusement business with the installation of children's wooden horse rides on department store rooftops in 1955, 10 years after World War II. With the success of the wooden horse rides, he introduced another children's ride, replica cars on tracks, in 1963.
The horse ride and the circuit ride by Nakamura Manufacturing. (Image: Namco.com)
His company was growing but it wouldn't hit its stride till the 1970s. With the rise of video games, Nakamura saw a need in the market that he could fill. He believed in the video game industry and hired software engineers to develop titles for the arcade. The result of his ambitious gamble came in 1980. An employee of his company, Toru Iwatani, created Pac-Man
. Iwatani would later reveal that Pac-Man
's design was inspired by a pizza missing a slice and the "Pac" in Pac-Man
came from the Japanese onomatopoeic word "pakku", which loosely translates to "gobble" or "munch".
The original Pac-Man in arcades.
Its legacy in gaming can still be felt today and it's often referenced in pop-culture. Most recently, the yellow sprite appeared in Wreck-It Ralph,
gobbling up shrimp cocktails and in Pixels,
as the secondary antagonist to Adam Sandler's unstoppable band of juvenile grown ups.
"Pakku, pakku, pakku"
"My eyes are in the shape of my body."
Pac-Man also appears in an animated TV-series in the 80's, a CG animated series titled Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
in 2013, as a playable character in the video game Super Smash Bros.
for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, and he even has a song out called "Pac-Man Fever".
Mr. Nakamura may not have been personally responsible for the creation of Pac-Man
but his belief in the medium of video games was instrumental to the foundation of mainstream gaming as we know it today. His decision to gamble on gaming lives on today as his company, Bandai Namco, continues to put out games that defines genres like the Dark Souls
series or fighting game veteren Tekken.
Did you play the original Pac-Man in arcades? Let us know.