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Pac-Man Completes 40 Years and is Still Going Strong

Written by Niyati Kanotra, a grade 12 student.

Pac – Man made its debut in the year 1980 in Japan. The team behind it comprised of nine people…

By I Kid You Not , in Ages 12 - 18 Entertainment Facts to Know , at May 31, 2020 Tags: , , , ,

Written by Niyati Kanotra, a grade 12 student

A black screen emerges with four ghosts wandering around with huge anxious eyes and a yellow round, ball-shaped character with a mouth which only opens to eat the white coloured dots.

You probably know what I am talking about right now, yes, I am talking about the Pac- Man game from the 1980s which has recently completed 40 years of entertaining the world and yet people’s obsession with it has still not died.

Pac – Man made its debut in the year 1980 in Japan.  The team behind it comprised of nine people, with Toru Iwatani directing it.  The game was released by Namco, a former Japanese developer for arcade games.  Toru Iwatani claimed that the main idea behind making this game was the fact that most of the games coming up during the late 70s and early 80s were mostly violent and could not be enjoyed by people of every age; hence, came the evolution of Pac – man. You might wonder what inspired the creator of Pac – Man to make such a legendary game. Well, believe it or not, it was a pizza. Yes, that’s right. Toru Iwatani (then 26) was eating a slice of pizza when he noticed that the pie was missing two slices and hence looked like the shape of a mouth.  No wonder Pac- Man is obsessed with gobbling, it was derived from slices of pizzas together. The idea of the Pac- Man eating white dots was derived from Popeye who used to eat spinach in order to defeat his enemy Bluto, and the ghosts were derived from comic book characters.

Pac- Man is 40 years old now, but is still loved by players around the world. It was a pioneer in the gaming world and changed the whole gaming culture. Before the 1980s,  gaming arcades contained only a limited crowd, and the games were mostly about annihilation (violent ones – about killings). But soon after the release of Pac – Man, the arcades were filled up with women and young crowd obsessing over the game.  It made everyone feel included in the arcade culture. That apart, the game also inspired game designers from all over the world, and influenced games like Pengo, which included a penguin running around and pushing its enemies with blocks.  The impact that Pac- Man had on game designers was quite evident as you could see them exploring new ideas, thus diversifying the gaming culture.  

Approximately 250 million games of Pac-Man were being played in the U.S. each week on 100,000 Pac-Man machines.  You may be amused with the fact about how a yellow character being chased by ghosts and gobbling white dots could be the first video game ever to make billions of dollars and turn into a global cultural icon.

The reason is that Pac – Man was the first game to come up with the concept of a power-up.  Power-ups are basically items that provide the players with positivity when collected, for example – medical kits, health, food etc. Before Pac – Man came, the main objective of arcade games was to kill your opponents but Pac – Man instead popularized the concept of avoiding its opponents. Pac – Man is more than just a game and even left its mark on pop culture, with songs like “Pac – Man Fever” by Gary Garcia. Forty years on, the fever of Pac – Man has still not died and it is still considered to be one of the most iconic games of all time. 

Pac – Man is not just a game, but an inspiration to the gaming family. It has changed the whole idea of gaming and shown how it can be something more than just violence or guns. Most importantly it has encouraged people of all age groups and genders to get involved in the fun manoeuvre of arcade games. Pac – Man, even after four decades, is in the same league as the present generation of games like PUBG, FIFA or GTA. Gaming technology has advanced by leaps and bounds but the concept of Pac – Man is still relevant. Millennials like myself enjoy playing the game every once in a while to relax and distract ourselves a bit. This game has found a place in the hearts of millions and will hopefully continue to excite and delight us for many years to come.

Written by Niyati Kanotra, a grade 12 student


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