22 May: Introducing Pac-Man

Namco’s ground-breaking arcade game Pac-Man had its first focus test in a Tokyo cinema foyer on May 22nd, 1980. Created by 24 year-old Toru Iwatani, it was originally called ‘Puck-Man’ and designed to appeal to women as well as men.

Each of the ghosts – Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde – was programmed to have its own personality using AI routines, creating a sense of ‘character’ despite the pixelated rendering. Atari declined the opportunity to distribute the game in the U.S. – where, in just a year, it generated $1billion of revenue – in quarters…

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why the gameplay wipes out after 256 levels; explore the craze that saw a Pac-man strategy textbook shift one million copies; and consider why the game’s name was changed to avoid some unfortunate graffiti… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The game that ate the world: 40 facts on Pac-Man’s 40th birthday’ (The Guardian, 2020): https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/may/22/pac-man-video-game-40-years-old

• ‘Why Players Around the World Gobbled Up Pac-Man’ (Smithsonian Magazine): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-players-around-world-gobbled-up-pac-man-180974902/

• ‘Pac-Man Level 256 – the last level in the game’ (The Glitch Gamer, 2017):

#Gaming #Japan #80s