Entertainment

Japanese founder of Namco, which brought Pac-Man to the masses, dead at 91

The Japanese games company Bandai Namco says Masaya Nakamura, the "Father of Pac-Man" who founded the Japanese video game company behind the hit creature-gobbling game, has died at age 91.

Pac-Man, designed by Toru Iwatani, hit the marketplace in 1980

Pac-Man is shown in a 2013 file photo at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), who included the game in its collection on interaction design. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

The Japanese games company Bandai Namco says Masaya Nakamura, the "Father of Pac-Man" who founded the Japanese video game company behind the hit creature-gobbling game, has died at age 91.

Nakamura, who died on Jan. 22, held an honorary position at Bandai Namco, formed in 2005 from a merger of two game companies. He founded Namco in 1955. Its beginnings were humble — just two mechanical horse rides on the rooftop of a department store.

The company reported Nakamura's death Monday, but would not comment on the cause of his death or other personal details, citing his family's wishes.

Pac-Man, designed by video game maker Toru Iwatani, went on sale in 1980. Guinness World Record has named it the world's most successful coin-operated arcade game.
Masaya Nakamura is shown in a 1997 file photo in Tokyo. (Kyodo News via AP)

The idea for the game came from the image of a pizza with a slice carved out. It launched at a time when there were few rival games, such as Space Invaders. It's estimated to have been played more than 10 billion times. Pac-Man is iconic in Japanese culture, having inspired T-shirts and other merchandise and animation shows.

Nakamura reportedly chose the word "Pac" to represent the munching of the Pac-Man devouring its prey.

Other popular Namco games during the arcade era included Galaxian and Dig Dug.

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