Happy birthday, Mr. Pacman

Exactly 30 years ago today, an arcade game was released in Japan that became perhaps the most iconic instance of video gaming and electronic entertainment in general — and which subsequently spawned a whole category of maze-games which, along with Rogue and Nethack, became a distant forefathers to the current generation of synthetic worlds, such as World of Warcraft or EVE Online. The game in question is of course Pac-man.

Pac-man’s original name — パックマン or Pakkuman — comes from Japanese onomatopoeic phrase paku-paku (パクパク), which is used in conjunction with the verb taberu (to eat). In english it would be akin to “yum-yum”. The game initially failed to achieve a breakthrough in Japan and only took off properly once it was licensed to the US under the initial name of Puck Man (which was changed to its present form in order to avoid tempting people replacing “P” with “F” on the public machines). The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, Pac-Man has generated countless (both authorized and otherwise) sequels, ports, spin-offs, bootlegs, clones and cross-overs to all kinds of different platforms, ranging from iPhone to the island of Manhattan. In 80’s Pac-man was turned into a TV-series and apparently there’s even a film in the works — titled Pac-Man: The Movie. Pac-man is by far the most recognizable video game character of all times and will probably remain so, even if the new generation of gamers spend their time slaying monsters in WoW rather than trying to outrun Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.

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One thought on “Happy birthday, Mr. Pacman

  1. That’s interesting.. I didn’t know much about the history of Pac Man other than the launch date. It’s been great 30 years, happy birthday Pac Man! 😀

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