Masaya Nakamura, Namco Founder and "Father of Pac-Man," Dies at 91

NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc.
'Pac-Man'

The Japanese video game pioneer also oversaw the acquisition by Namco of film studio Nikkatsu, where he took on the role of producer for a number of movies.

Masaya Nakamura, the founder of video gaming giant Namco who is known as the "father of Pac-Man," the hugely successful arcade and console game, died earlier this month at the age of 91.

Founding Namco in 1955, Nakamura oversaw its growth into a global video game company that would merge with rival Bandai in 2005. His death on Jan. 22 was announced in Tokyo on Monday by Bandai Namco, the company formed by the merger.

Pac-Man, designed by Toru Iwatani, was launched in 1980 and went on to become a global hit in arcades and later on consoles. The game holds the Guinness World Record for arcade games, having been played more than 10 billion times.

The game, which features a yellow circular figure munching its way through mazes filled with food and other objects, was so popular that cases of "Pac-Man elbow," similar to tennis elbow, were reported by medical professionals treating players who indulged for too many hours.

In 1993, Namco bought Nikkatsu, and Nakamura was executive producer on a number of titles at the studio, as well as the 2010 film version flop of the iconic Namco fighting game Tekken.

Nakamura was also a hidden playable character in the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 game.

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