Apparently, there’s a lot of confusion.
The creator of Namco, the video game company responsible for the 1980 arcade milestone Pac-Man died just a few days ago. Indeed, a tapestry in the kingdom of geekdom has crumbled, and the Retro Gaming Solar System just received a Imperial visit from the Death Star…and lost a pivotal planet. The internet is in full-blown doomsday mode with the over-flooding of article after article stating that the “father” and “creator of Pac-Man”, Masaya Nakamura, has died at age 91 on January 21, 2017.
But there’s a problem. Masaya Nakamura, as it would turn out, is not the creator Pac-Man. The creator of Pac-Man is still alive.
Puck you, interwebs.
The creator and designer of Pac-Man goes by the name of Toru Iwatani. Iwatani joined Namco in 1977, where his vision of a character named “Pakku-Man” materialized when he was 25 years old and created the game with a handful of employees under Nakamura. Since being brought to the United States by Midway (you know, the guys who gave us gamers SNES-era classics like NBA Jam and some dinky barfbag of a game called Mortal Kombat), the series went from Iwantani’s original translated title of “Puck-Man” to the immortal “Pac-Man”. The franchise has grown tremendously in size and legend since then, becoming one of the most recognizable video game icons in the history of the medium. In 2005, Nakamura’s company merged with former-rival game company Bandai to become Bandai Namco Games; nowadays you’ll find the Bandai Namco logo on such popular titles as Dragonball Xenoverse 2, Dark Souls III, and Tekken 7. Pac-Man himself can be seen ridin’ dirty with his hitters Mario and Luigi in the sensational arcade racing franchise, the Mario Kart Arcade GP series, and as a surprisingly dangerous fighter in Super Smash Bros for WiiU/3DS, the fourth and considerably best game in the series.
Anyways, let’s take a step back. Nakamura has passed away this week. Sources online, unofficial or otherwise, are referring to him as both the “father of Pac-Man” and the “creator of Pac-Man”. Why is this problematic? Who gives a puck?
STORYTIME. Back in high school when I was still hand-drawing my own comics, I devised an entire manga franchise, story arcs, characters and all. Now, I can see myself getting back into that at some point, but had I never stopped in the first place and it’d become this huge popular deal, I might have gotten a deal with Mr. Crusty Cups, who owns a comic book company called LEVRAM, see? Now, Mr. Cups owns LEVRAM–he didn’t particularly create the manga series I made. So, if Mr. Cups died at age 91, and the internet–either naive or tempted to create click-bait–decided to refer to HIM as the “father” and “creator” of MY comic book series….well, that’d kinda tick me off, man.
Does that make sense? It’s pretty disrespectful towards Iwatani to disregard his name and his work, just so a magazine website can have a good article title and a few extra clicks on it. Of course saying that the creator of Pac-Man passed away is going to get more attention than saying the former-president of video game developer Namco has passed away. Yet, it does make me wonder, as I mentioned–did these folks simply not do the actual research, or did they just want something to draw in clicks?
Either way, it’s still a sad week for the nerdom world. Indeed, the late great Masaya Nakamura has passed. Still, he should be known as the “father of Namco”, which is realistically much bigger in scale, than “father of Pac-Man”, just because it’s more recognizable. And the ACTUAL father and creator of Pac-Man, Toru Iwayani, deserves much more than just a crummy uncredited cameo in that painful retro-game tribute failure of a film Pixels (to Adam Sandler…thanks for everything).
Remember, names matter. History is reflected in those names, as is the legacy of their work. Remember Iwayani as the creator of Pac-Man. But remember Nakamura as the creator of the company that employed Iwayani in the first place. Indeed, without these two men, perhaps we never would have a Pac-Man at all. Rest in peace, Nakamura. Here’s hoping Bandai Namco continues to do you proud.
If you can’t handle the aforementioned information….it might be time to puck off.