While a nascent games industry was laser focused on emulating the success of Taito’s Space Invaders, one designer tried to make something completely different – and ended up creating our second design icon: Pac-Man.

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Sources

Retro Gamer UK Issue 61 | Retro Gamer

Toru Iwatani, 1986 PacMan Designer | Programmers At Work

Pacman: The Phenomenon | GameSpy

Q&A: Pac-Man Creator Reflects on 30 Years of Dot-Eating | Wired

The Pac-Man Dossier | Gamasutra

Pac-Man Interview with creator Toru Iwatani at GDC 2011 | YouTube

Interview 1 Vol. 1 with Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani | PacMan.com

Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto… | Google Books

Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani | Japan Times

I Am Error… | Google Books

These games inspired Cliff Bleszinski, John Romero, Will Wright, and Sid Meier | Joystiq

GO3: Kojima Talks Metal Gear History, Future | Gamasutra

Learn More

Pac-Man Creator Toru Iwatani Biograph | Pac-Man Museum

Postmortem: Pac-Man, Iwatani’s rhapsody in yellow | Gamasutra

The Pac-Man Principle: A User’s Guide To Capitalism | Google Books

Toru Iwatani: Pac-Man and the real life of games design | Financial Times

Toru Iwatani – Mechanics of Pac Man | YouTube

Extra Footage

Tokyo Landscapes | Bolo Bellheimer

The Ultimate Early 80s Arcade Tribute | Patrick Scott Patterson

Pinball Machine, 1970s USA | thekinolibrary

80s Japan – Video Arcade | NichiBeiTrader

Happy Birthday Pac-Man: A look at news coverage in 1982 | Patrick Scott Patterson

Professor Toru Iwatani Gamelab Legend Award Interview | Gamereactor

Traffic, Busy Streets, Shibuya Crossing | thekinolibrary

Manhattan, New York 1980 | Mackenzie Rough

Buckner & Garcia – Pacman Fever | EDUARDO ANDRES CONTRERAS NOBIZELLI

1984 Pac-Man Cereal Commercial | xntryk1

Pac-Man Atari commercial compilation | Toy lover

When Pac-Man was King – CBS Evening News | Shatner Method

Music used in this episode

Sun Bleach – Lifeformed (
Various – Lee Rosevere (
Pac-Man Fever – Buckner & Garcia

Wreck-It Ralph © Disney
Tom and Jerry © Warner Bros
Popeye © Turner Entertainment
Little Ghost Q-Taro © TV Asahi
Casper the Friendly Ghost © DreamWorks
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World © Universal Pictures
Pac-Man © Warner Bros

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21 Comments

Drew S.

July 18, 2020

11:45 yeah … everyone knows that piece of trivia, including me, an everyday person who knew that trivia like everyone else 👀. what? i’m not sweating—you’re sweating!

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ドライブイン環8

July 18, 2020

Ghosts turn back after 5sec→25sec→30sec→50sec→55sec

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Wires Dawson

July 18, 2020

I knew I recognised that intro sting. Double Fine Adventure is awesome, and its soundtrack is so good!

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jonas wolthaus

July 18, 2020

Can you please continue this series? I just loved these videos:))))

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Tubbs Tubbs.

July 18, 2020

Whatever happened to design icons?

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CortlandOrigami

July 18, 2020

Wow Pac-Man is a lot more complicated than I realized!

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Caylie C.

July 18, 2020

It's got something for everyone; action and gameplay for men, cute graphics and silly cutscenes for women, simple design and understandable gameplay for casual players, complex and intricate ai for advanced players, easy to grasp and understand for beginners, challenging and difficult for experts, and overall with its simplistic nature it leaves almost everything up to the imagination. It's really amazing, isn't it?

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Ben Timberlake

July 18, 2020

When I was a kid and Pac-Man was in arcades, I was utterly confused by the teardrop-shaped, legged yellow character depicted on the cabinet. I suppose that depiction illustrates that the circular digital character was at first considered a best effort at approximating some creature we might imagine in the real world. And only later did the caretakers of the brand realize they should embrace the unusual but simple representation.

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The Antimuffin

July 18, 2020

"Creating a fun game is not about satisfying yourself as a developer." – I feel like this a lesson that amateur designers really need to learn. So many people's first attempts at making games, especially puzzles, is more about proving how smart they are and how clever their puzzles are. But good designers make the players feel smart and clever. That's the real challenge–making something just hard enough that it feels good to solve while still giving players enough tools to solve it.

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Ian Phillip

July 18, 2020

This is such a great series – I wish you’d do more.

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Ryan Anderson

July 18, 2020

Ms. PAC MAN > PAC MAN

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ndal_

July 18, 2020

Ultima Underworld had a replica of Pac-Man in level 5 (iirc) complete with ghosts and pellets.

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wundrweapon

July 18, 2020

This series lasted all of one month. Bit of a shame, too; I was really looking forward to episodes in the 1985-2005 region, because those games really changed everything

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Pocket Fluff Productions

July 18, 2020

Crazy to think that concerns about the level of violence in games was a thing even back then. And that so much of the industry, again even back then, was reliant on just making knockoffs of what was already popular.

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Evan Watkins

July 18, 2020

Dustforce!

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TJC games

July 18, 2020

3:50 uhh did you forget something?
The pinky up bug
If pacman is facing up, pinky'starget is 4 tiles in front AND to the left of pacman.

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Ixapter

July 18, 2020

Toru Iwatani, I salute you. 🙂

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Indy Lockheart

July 18, 2020

Those are computer monitors in Sonic???? I always thought it was like a glass box……..neat!!!

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bigd4465

July 18, 2020

what's the music playing at 1:17???

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John McWeasel

July 18, 2020

1:22 Hey, that looks like the ghosts! Looks like both designs had that inspiration.

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NedBark

July 18, 2020

Did you know that the original name for Pac-Man was Puck-Man? You'd think it was because he looks like a hockey puck but it actually comes from the Japanese phrase 'Paku-Paku,' which means to flap one's mouth open and closed. They changed it because they thought Puck-Man would be too easy to vandalize, you know, like people could just scratch off the P and turn it into an F or whatever.

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