The History of Pacman

Published May 4, 2020 60,925 Views

Have you ever wondered why everyone knows what Pac-man is? Why does almost everyone in the world, regardless of age, know of this arcade game? Is it because its retro look and simple interface are easy to remember? How did this Japanese video game become a legendary international icon defining the cultural era of the 80s? Let’s dive into the history of Pac-man.

The original game started in 1979, when a Japanese arcade game designer employed by Namco, Toru Iwatani, found a solution to balancing the heavy number of violent video games. At the time, the more popular video games were Asteroids, Space Invaders, Tail Gunner, and Galaxian- all with more violent themes. And Toru Iwatani found the solution to leveling out the game concepts… while eating.

It hit him when he was looking down at his pizza pie. Two pieces were missing from the whole, resembling a mouth almost, as you can see where the physicality of the arcade machine began. This turned into Pakkuman, stemming from the Japanese term “paku-paku taberu” which is basically onomatopoeia describing the “puck-puck” sound a mouth makes when chomping widely and closing quickly after. Which, if you’ve actually played the game, you would realize is the sound the original Pac-man makes when he eats his dots. Hence his original name “Puck-man” was born.

However, you can imagine the issues this name would run into, especially when the demographic gamers at the time were adolescent boys. Thus, “Pac-man” became exceedingly popular and became the perfect game to play with friends. And it broke the demographic barrier. By the mid-1990s, this video game was made available in the United States for general computers, game consoles, (who remembers Nintendos?!), and even handheld devices. This little Pac-man character and the other game characters were so well-known that businesses were even capitalizing off of merch. Everyone had Pac-man fever, and it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Let's not forget about the famous Ms. Pac-man and other spin-offs and TV shows that would later make her way into the world! Let Pac-mania live forever!

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