Pac-Man, the biggest arcade game of all time, turns 35!
Released by the Japanese company Namco on May 22, 1980, Pac-Man was revolutionary: At a time when the arcades were ruled by games with abstracted, monochrome graphics (Space Invaders and Asteroids) aimed at boys, who mainly played them in video games arcades, Pac-Man offered a colorful cartoonish design with an appealing central character. Pac-Man revolved around eating, not shooting; and it was designed to appeal to young women and couples.
The game was developed primarily by a young Namco employee named Toru Iwatani over the course of a year, beginning in April 1979, employing a nine-man team. Japanese game developer Toru Iwatani set out to design a game to appeal to women and was reportedly inspired from a pizza that he was eating. After having eaten two slices, the idea of a rounded character with a large mouth occurred to him. He initially called the game “Pakkuman”, based on the sound one’s mouth makes when opening and closing it rapidly.
When the game was launched in the U.S.A, the name was changed to Pac-man; the game immediately became a hit. 350,000 Pac-Man arcade machines were sold in the first 18 months. Pac-Man became one of the highest-grossing video games of the period, pulling in more than $2.5 billion dollars in revenue in the years that followed.
According to inventor Iwatani, Pac-Man’s enemies, the four colorful ghosts had distinct characters; at the 2011 Game Developers Conference he described the ghosts character in more detail. He stated that the red enemy chases Pac-Man, and the pink and blue enemies try to position themselves in front of Pac-Man’s mouth.
Pac-Man will be appearing in the upcoming film Pixels (2015), with Denis Akiyama playing game creator Toru Iwatani.