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Video Game Pioneer And “Father of Pac-Man”, Masaya Nakamura, Dies At 91

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Video game pioneer and the world renowned “Father of Pac-Man”, Masaya Nakamura, has died at the age of 91. The cause of death has not been revealed by the family in accordance with the wishes of his family. He died on January 22 and the notice of his death was released today by the company he helped found, Bandai Namco Holdings of Japan.

Born in Tokyo on December 24, 1925, Nakamura went on to graduate with a degree in shipbuilding from the Yokohama Institute of Technology in 1948. He founded Nakamura Manufacturing in 1955 in the midst of Japan’s recovery from World War Two. The company initially manufactured children’s rides that were coin operated and placed outside of retail stores. The company’s first client was a department store that allowed him to operate two mechanical horses perched atop the store’s roof.

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His mechanical children’s rides became hugely popular throughout Japan and, in 1977, he renamed the company Namco. It was in the 1970’s that Nakamura decided to grow the company and expand into amusement parks and arcade games. Early game releases included Gee Bee in 1978 and Galaxian in 1979. The real breakthrough for the company came, however, in 1980 with the creation of the, now legendary, Pac-Man. The game has since gone on to become an iconic fixture among the last several generations and it is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most played arcade game of all time. Estimates are that the arcade game has been played well over ten billion times.

The inventors imagined Pac-Man as a pizza that was missing a slice and then sent it on its merry munching way. At the time, 1980, there really was only Space Invaders, and a small handful of other minor games, until Pac-Man hit and completely changed the arcade game industry forever and setting the creation of the video gaming industry on a path of no return. In only the span of five years, from 1983-1987, nearly 300,000 Pac-Man arcade games were built and installed in venues all around the world. In addition, Ms. Pac-Man became the first video game to feature a female playable character.

In 2005, after decades of success, Namco merged with Japanese video game giant, Bandai and formed Bandai Namco Holdings.

PHOTO CREDITS: The Associated Press / Bandai Namco Holdings

Kevin Sawyer
Broadcast Beat - Production Industry Resource