A tribute to the man behind one of Japan’s greatest game companies
Namco founder Masaya Nakamura died aged 91 on January 22, leaving a vast legacy of coin-op and console hits, along with one of videogaming’s most iconic characters. Nakamura established the company in 1955, but it was the advent of the arcade that made the Namco name famous worldwide, first with Galaxian and then, in 1980, with Pac-Man. The pelletgobbling character proved such a draw, in fact, that Nakamura came to question the knock-on effects of the game’s popularity. “I am a little concerned about the way some young people play it so much,” he said in a 1982 interview. “It’s not a very happy thing to see people spending so much time on it. Once it goes beyond a certain level, it is not good for young people.”
But Nakamura was proud of Pac-Man as a piece of innovative design, admiring how creator Toru Iwatani produced a non-violent game at a time when shooting enemies was the norm. “Pac-Man was like a sun – everything else faded in its reflection,” Nakamura said in 1982. “I don’t think we will ever have any game close to Pac-Man.” Maybe not. But that hasn’t stopped the character itself, still starring in games today, such as World’s
Largest Pac-Man, helping to remind us why the world fell in love all those years ago.