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Happy 30th Birthday, Pac-Man!

Today, Namco celebrates Pac-Man's 30th anniversary. Designed by Toru Iwatani, Pac-Man was first released in Japan on this day in 1980. In the United States alone, Pac-Man machines sold over 100,000 units. Even Pac-Man strategy guides were a huge hit, four of which were on the New York Times bestseller list in 1981.

The game started with the concept of "taberu" (食べる), the Japanese word for "to eat". One reason is because they were trying to make a game that girls would want to play as well, and Japanese girls like to eat. And by "liking to eat", I don't mean that they eat tons of food all the time. In general, even today (or at least from what I've noticed from my girlfriend), Japanese girls like to eat all kinds of small desserts like ice cream, mini-cakes, crepes, candies, etc.

"Pac-Man" is the American version of the Japanese title, "Pakku-Man", which comes from the onomatopoeic phrase "paku-paku taberu", meaning "to munch". (Paku-paku also means to open and close your mouth repeatedly). When romanized, "Pakku-Man" became "Puck-Man", and this title was used on many Japanese arcade machines.

Later, when Midway bought the rights to distribute these machines in the U.S., it had asked Namco to change the name to "Pac-Man". Midway was afraid that some people might vandalize the machine and change the P of Puck-Man into an F.

Another interesting trivia: Pac-Man was the first game to use lots of cinematic cut-scenes, seen before every level started (even though there wasn't much of a story in it).

There is an awesome recreation of Pac-Man on Google's homepage. Just go to and click on Insert Coin. You can use your directional buttons to control Pac-Man. This will only be available today and tomorrow.

Reference: Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, by Chris Kohler, Chapter 2

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday Pac-man! Thanks for all those memories :~)


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