Pac-man, probably the most important arcade character in history, is an icon of world culture. And, although it does not go through its best moment of popularity, it is still fondly remembered by the oldest gamers.
According to the official Pac-Man story, May 22, 1980 Toru Iwatani and Shigeo Funaki, co-founders of the video game company Namco, took to the arcade venues in the Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo, a maze game with a charismatic main character, which was based on the shape of a pizza with a missing slice. The game’s protagonist and title were called Puck-Man, making it a real hit almost immediately in Japan.
The North American company Midway bought the rights to market Puck Man in the United States, but, to prevent people from referring to him as Fuck Man they changed the name to Pac-Man, nickname with which he gained world fame.
The great reception of Pac-Man during the first half of the eighties was largely due to the fact that it was a completely innovative game for the time. Recall that, at the time, the most popular arcades were Space Invaders, Asteroids, and the like, filled with tiny spaceships and aliens, where precision was a necessary requirement for high scores. In Pac-Man you simply had to dodge the ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde) until you finished eating all the points on the screen. Without forgetting its iconic melody, which continues to be a tribute today.
Despite the fact that Pac-Man is not an easy game, Iwatani and Funaki designed it with the aim of attracting children, women and young people alike with their simple control, something that they achieved by far. At a time when it was very rare to see women in the “sparks”, Pac-Man conquered them. The game became so popular that it was the culprit that the arcades left their exclusive premises and settled in shops, pharmacies and bars.
In a very short time Pac-Man conquered the world. A few years after its launch, hundreds of products bearing his image could be seen on the stores, including two animation series in the 1980s and a radio show. In fact, Pac-Man was the first character to emerge from video games that exploited his image beyond the arcades and the –then– fledgling consoles.. This is because, despite the graphic limitations of the time, the advancement in video games allowed small features to be seen that gave the yellow ball more personality than, for example, the abstract rackets of Pong.
Today, with 40 years on, Pac-Man is no longer so famous, even so he is already part of popular culture, which has earned him having pop songs, appearing as a villain in Pixels, being an eligible character in Super Smash Bros, have Google tributes and, as further proof of his fame and significance, have special appearances in The Simpsons, Futurama and Family Guy.
Not bad for a man in his forties.