Masaya Naka­mura

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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.

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