RIP: Arcade Pioneer & “Father Of Pac-Man” Masaya Nakamura

The man responsible for millions of people spending millions of hours glued to video games has gone to that glowing maze in the sky: Masaya Nakamura, founder of the Japanese video game company behind Pac-Man, passed away last week at the age of 91.

Nakamura founded Namco, now part of Bandai Namco, in 1955 with two mechanical horse rides on a department store rooftop, the Associated Press reports, before going on to pioneer amusement parks and video game arcades. The company confirmed that he died on Jan. 22.

Pac-Man was designed by Namco engineer Toru Iwatani. The signature circular shape of the Pac-Man character is said to have been inspired by the image of a pizza with missing slice. The story is that Nakamura came up with the word “Pac,” or “pakku” in Japanese to mimic the sound of the Pac-Man chewing up his prey.

Pac-Man, which debuted in 1980, went on to become one of the most beloved and popular video games of all time, going from arcade game to the Nintendo home console. It has since has been adapted for cellphones, PlayStation, and Xbox formats, and has been played an estimated 10 billion times, the AP notes. Guinness World Record has also named it the world’s most successful coin-operated game.

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