Who remembers Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde? Maybe you don’t remember them by name, but they are the blinking ghosts in Pac-Man. I thought back to the arcade game that stood out to me the most as a kid and came up with Pac-Man. I spent countless hours chasing dots as a child. I looked forward to going to Round Table Pizza because they were one of the few establishments that housed the sit-down model of Pac-Man.
On May 22, 1980, Namco introduced the world to one of the most popular arcade games. Japanese game designer Toru Iwatani game up with the idea for a game called “Puck-Man” which was first released in Japan. The game manufacturer Midway bought the United States rights for the game the same year, but because they feared that kids might deface a Puck-Man cabinet by changing the P to an F, the United States released the game as Pac-Man.
Pac-man became an iconic social phenomenon during the 1980s, and I can’t imagine anyone who couldn’t recognize Pac-Man if shown in a line-up. Almost 30 years later my husband and I were shopping for Christmas gifts and came across a Pac-Man game that you connect to your television through video inputs. I’ve introduced my nieces, five and seven, to the game that was a mainstay in my house for many years, and they don’t seem to like the game as much. The concept of a joy-stick was semi-foreign to them, and they are also used to more fast-moving, developed characters. The dotted maze just doesn’t excite them.
Iwatani created a few other games for Namco, but none had the level of success that Pac-Man did and he ended up leaving Namco in March 2007 to become a full-time lecturer at Tokyo Polytechnic University where he teaches character design studies.