Tag Archives: pac-man

Masaya Nakamura, the “father of Pac-Man” dies at age 91

Toy and game software company Bandai Namco Holdings announced on Monday that its founder Masaya Nakamura, the man behind Pac-Man, has died on Jan. 22 at the age of 91. Bandai Namco’s statement gave no further details regarding the cause of death.

If you’re into games today, Nakamura is one of the people who made it happen for you. A ship-building graduate at the Yokohama Institute of Technology in 1948, Nakamura got into the amusement ride business in 1955 as the country’s economy recovered after WW2. He started with two rocking horses on the roof of a department store in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo. The rides were hugely popular, and were later installed throughout the country.

But it wasn’t kiddie rides that he made history with — it was video games. He understood their huge potential, so in 1970 Nakamura hired a bunch of software engineers, bought Atari’s Japanese branch, and turned Namco’s hand to making video games.

Ten years later, the company would release the highest-grossing arcade game ($7.68 billion adjusted for inflation in 2016) of all time: Pac-Man. The public loved it. So much so that the Guinness Book of World Records to named it the world’s most successful arcade game at the time.

Nakamura’s work made him into one of the pillars of Japanese and international gaming industries. After Pac-Man, he heavily developed and invested in hand-held and console systems — he’s one of the people without whom you wouldn’t have the old Pokemon Nintendo, or toady’s triple A shooters on consoles.

In 2005, when Namco merged with Bandai, Nakamura took up the honorary position of top adviser for the holding company. In 2007, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette — the highest honor the Japanese government bestows upon a civilian — for his contribution to Japanese industry.

The company’s statement requested respect for his family’s privacy. Nakamura’s funeral and wake were held privately, with Bandai Namko planning to offer a separate memorial service for the public.

The world’s tiniest game of Pac-Man is both awesome and educational

Studying microorganisms is hard work — and sometimes it can get a bit dull. To stave off the tedium of a day’s work in the lab, researchers from the Univeristy College of Southeast Norway now rely on watching games of Pac-Man, with a twist: the team re-created the iconic maze in tiny proportions to better understand the predator and prey behaviours of protozoans and rotifers.

Led by Professor Erik Andrew Johannessen of the Institute of Micro and Nano System Technology, a team of Norwegian scientists created the “Mikroskopisk Pacman” project, a nano-structure maze of under one millimeter in diameter. The role of Pac-Man is assumed by protozoans euglena and ciliate, with pseudocoelomate (in this case rotifers) acting as the Ghosts. While undeniably awesome, the project wasn’t put together for its fun factor alone, the team reports.

The maze forms a 3D environment that allows microorganisms to interact more naturally than the artificial medium of a 2D petri dish. The tiny canals inside the maze also resemble the structures these creatures navigate to in the wild.

To make it more accessible to the public, film director Adam Bartley lyslagt was brought in to create the Pac-Man themed map and film the “gameplay” between euglena and rotifers. Using micro scenography, Iyslagt captured the video above. The little creatures can be seen darting around for dear life — or a tasty meal.

The team behind the project says that it not only helped with their research but also with relaying their findings in a way people can understand better and are more engaged with, raising awareness of science. I’d say they hit the nail on the head here — I’m definitely engaged and aware.

We can also look forward to a sequel. The team said they’re focusing on creating more Pac-Man style levels in future projects, as well experiments based on other games.

I’m gonna need a smaller controller.