'Pac-Man' Creator Looks Back At The Game's 40-Year Legacy

When “Pac-Man” was first released some 40 years ago, video games were much simpler. But how does it fare against other games these days and what made it endure the changing times? Its game creator takes a walk down memory lane.

How “Pac-Man” Has Managed To Endure All These Years

Although video games are incredibly complex pieces of art now that explores stories other media can’t, it wasn’t always like this. Back then, or specifically 40 years ago, things were much simpler. It was the 1970s when arcade games followed a fairly simple formula in order to please gamers: let people shoot things.

However, the young Toru Iwatani decided that he wanted to try something completely different. Going against the grain, the young game designer then created “Pac-Man.” It then became the most successful arcade game of all time.

“When I started drafting up this project in the late 1970s, the arcades were filled with violent games all about killing aliens. They were gloomy places where only boys went to hang out. What I wanted to do was make arcades into livelier places that women and couples might enjoy visiting, so I thought it best to design a game with women in mind,” Iwatani said.

And so, at the age of 25, he created the game, which was originally titled “PuckMan,” since “Paku paku taberu” is a popular Japanese phrase for gobbling something up. In fact, the titular character’s design is based on a few slices of pizza that he was eating while thinking of ideas, and the rest is history.

Per Iwatani, the game’s massive success can be attributed to its simplicity since the game’s goal (and single control system) is easy to grasp and understand. That doesn’t mean, however, that the game is simple because the game actually increases in difficulty the longer you play.

Since then, the game has garnered continuous success and time in the spotlight, spawning countless sequels, merchandise, a cult following, a place in every gamer’s heart and even an appearance in the movie “Pixels.”

“And now today, 40 years later, it's still enjoyed by not only women, but men and women, young and old alike, all around the world. If we were to compare it to music, it might be something like a popular song that everyone knows and has heard before,” Iwatani said.

Pac-Man "Pac-Man" creator Toru Iwatani takes a walk down memory lane after 40 years of the game's success. Troy Morris, CC BY-ND 2.0

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