One of the first video games I remember playing is probably a game many of you are familiar with. This year that video game celebrates 25 years of entertaining people all over the world and it has been played over 10 billion times in the 20th century.
The video game I am talking about is Pac-Man.
Back in the day, any trip to a pizza parlor (anyone remember when Mazzio's was in Victoria?) was followed by me begging my parents for quarters so I could play Pac Man. I wasn't even good at the game, but I was drawn to it. Something about chomping on little pixelated dots and ghosts was so appealing to me. Those memories are so vivid. I can clearly see a picture of myself back then: six-years- old, bowl haircut, blue jeans, Nike shoes and wearing my prized Pac-Man T-shirt, all while furiously trying to eat all 240 or so dots and flee from Blinky.
I don't know if my sister remembers this, but the year she was born, when my parents first brought her home from the hospital, I was right there at the door anxiously waiting for her. I had a "Welcome Home" poster I made myself: a poster bordered by Pac-Man chasing after Blinky Pinky, Inky and Clyde, with a few dots thrown in for good measure. I was ready to share all my Pac-Man secrets with her. (Ok, I have been watching too much Lifetime, just remembering that made my eyes well up!) I know a picture exists of me holding up the poster on that day, I'll try to get a scan of it.
Pac-Man has quite a history in American pop culture, from cereal, lunch boxes, pasta and even a top 40 hit (Buckner & Garcia's "Pac Man Fever" hit number 9 on Billboard's charts in 1982).
A little history
Things have certainly come a long way from the day Toru Iwatani came up with the idea for Pac Man at dinner.
Iwatani, who was also responsible for the arcade classic Galaxian, was trying to come up with a game that looked like a cartoon. At a pizza parlor, he paused after taking his first slice and thought the remainder of the pie looked like a head with its mouth open. He imagined it racing through a maze, eating things — and the phenomenon was born.
In fact, legend has it Iwatani actually wanted Pac Man to be a pizza, but technological limitations at the time made it impossible.
The game also underwent a name change. Pac Man's original name was Puck Man — but a savvy executive at Bally/Midway, which distributed the game in the United States, had it changed on all machines, fearing what game room vandals would do with the original moniker.
"Pac Man changed the psychological profile of the average person," explains Twin Galaxies' Walter Day. "Suddenly old and young, male and female, doctors, dentists, lawyers and housewives found it acceptable to be playing a video game. And Pac Man opened that door for them. Despite the fact that it was technologically advanced, it was as simple as playing a card game for them."
So go ahead and be impressed as you hear about sales numbers for the next "Grand Theft Auto" or see anxious gamers camping overnight to be the first to get their hands on next generation consoles. But weigh that frenzy to the one Pac Man sparked when it was originally released in Japan. The game proved so popular that it incited a shortage of yen coins in the country.
Let's see today's titles manage something like that.
Source: CNN Money.com
I may not have enough room (or money) to buy my own arcade game like the one shown in the photo below. But I still have plenty of fun with the Namco Classic Arcade Video Game System, my husband bought for me (thanks!). The system comes with the original Pac-Man.
Ahhh, good times indeed.
25th Anniversary Edition of Pac-Man arcade game
Namco Classic Arcade Video Game System
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