Namco Founder Masaya Nakamura Has Died

The man people often referred to as 'the father of Pac-Man' has passed.

by Patrick Klepek
Jan 30 2017, 7:00pm

Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Namco, has died, the company announced today. Nakamura was 91-years-old, and remained an honorary advisor until his passing. A cause of death was not released.

When Masaya Nakamura founded Nakamura Manufacturing in 1955, video games didn't exist—the company was focused on building mechanical rides for children. As part of a reorganization a few years later, Nakamura Manufacturing became Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company, aka NAMCO. When the company acquired the flailing Atari Japan in 1974, it was the start of a process that would change them forever. Its first original game, Gal Bee, arrived in 1978, and just two years later, Pac-Man arrived. From there, history took over.

Nakamura was not a game designer, though; Namco engineer Toru Iwatani was responsible for Pac-Man. In fact, Pac-Man Museum has an interview with Nakamura from that time period, in which he talked about enjoying the game's financial success but worried "some young people play it so much."

Masaya Nakamura is thrilled about the global success of his creation, but he isn't crazy about the way some people spend hours playing it.

"I am a little concerned about the way some young people play it so much," Mr Nakamura said.

"It's not a very happy thing to see people spending so much time on it. Once it goes beyond a certain level, it is not good for young people."

Not that Mr Nakamura doesn't enjoy Pac-Man. On a recent visit to Atlantic City, the bespectacled, paunchy 57-year-old Tokyo businessman stood in front of one of his creations, grimacing and muttering in Japanese as the ominous words "Game Over" flashed on the screen.

It seems like things worked out okay for Nakamura (and Namco).

Since his passing, several Japanese game designers who knew Nakamura have spoken publicly:

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