Masaya Nakamura, the founder of video game company Namco and the man behind Pac-Man, the highest grossing arcade title of all time, has died at the age of 91.
Nakamura was a legendary figure during the nascent period of arcade gaming during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although originally formed in 1955, the firm only changed its name to Namco in 1977, a few years before Pac-Man was released to arcades the world over.
Nakamura passed away on January 22, but the news was kept private and only released after the funeral had taken place last week.
Namco launched the first game to use advanced multicolour sprites, Galaxian, in 1977, but became a legend in video game folklore when Pac-Man was released in 1980. The game become a global pop culture phenomenon and is still widely referenced today despite being 37 years old. As well as toys and a popular Saturday morning cartoon, Pac-Man was even licensed as a breakfast cereal!
The sequel, Mrs Pac-Man, released in 1981 was an even bigger hit, and was followed by gaming milestone games such as Pole Position and Dig Dug.
Nakamura was not himself responsible for designing the Pac-Man games. That accolade is held by Toru Iwatani, 62. But Nakamura was the man in charge of Namco, and held an emeritus position at Bandai-Namco when Bandai and Namco merged in 2005.
Bandai Namco hold the rights to several of Asia’s largest gaming properties, including the massive Gundam franchise
In 2016, Pac-Man was named as the highest grossing arcade game of all time by the US Gamer website.
Nakamura was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame in 2010, and in 2007 was awarded with one of Japan’s highest honours, the Order of the Rising Sun.