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The Mind of Toru Iwatani

How curiously observing the world and it's behavior can take a man to better places.
by

Alex Metcalf

on 23 September 2010

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Transcript of The Mind of Toru Iwatani

Meet Toru Iwatani Born on January 25th, 1955
in Meguro Ward in Tokyo He was hired by namco in 1977 as a software programmer. This was a time when the company just hatched interest in being involved with the arcade gaming industry. He started off his carrer by co-designing several
published arcade games in the late 70's, including... Gee Bee - 1978 bomb bee - 1979 Cutie-q - 1979 During the design and releases of those games, Iwatani wanted to find a way to create a game that can be more universally appealing, especially to the neglected female demographic. One day, during a visit to shakey's pizza, he took the first slice of his ordered pie and notice an interesting shape he left out. The shape made an abstract resemblance of a head with a gaping mouth. It was a simple, yet effective figure that stuck with him. He decided he wanted to make a game using this figure as its protagonist. To understand what can appeal the common female demographic, he took notes as he overhears common conversations by several groups of women. One of the most common topics involved eating. The simplistic figure of the protagonist coincidentally made an ideal representation of someone that would eat non-stop. So he decided to design a game where you have to eat everything that is displayed. Thus, "PAKU MAN" was born The name came from the term "paku-paku" which is a Japanese onomatopoea for smacking your lips as you eat. The name was later translated to "Puck-man", and changed again to "Pac-man." One idea lead to many others in the
design process, examples include Artificial intellegence: Each of the four enemies of the game is programmed to have their own distinct behavioral pattern to which direction they go based on where you character is located. Emotional expression: When you make the enemies vulnerable after eating a "power pellet", they display a sense of panic. Not only by how they change in appearance, but also by how they move as they try to avoid you rather than follow you. Overall Uniqueness: Alot of the arcade games fought over who is best at a certain genre. Instead of taking a popular genre and adding flare to it like previous titles, it was a new, unique, and refreshing approach to challenge that required skill and focus. The Wild, Global success of Pac-Man helped Namco promote Iwatani-san from programmer to lead producer on arcade titles. Later in his carrer, he was cretided as producer on several other hit franchises, including... ridge racer - 1994 time crisis - 1996 In 2007, Toru took a reinterpretation of his beloved franchise and released Pac-man: Championship Edition for xbox live arcade. He aimed to maintain everything that was fun about the game, while doing several changes to alter the challenge and stragegies. He began to teach the studies of Character design to students at the osaka university of arts in 2005. He was only an occasional guest speaker when he was still with namco. aFTER THE RELEASE OF PAC-MAN CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION, HE DEPARTED FROM NAMCO AND BEGAN A FULL TIME CARRER AS A PROFESSOR FOR THE TOKYO POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY. iT WAS HERE THAT HE WANTED TO HELP SPREAD HIS IDEAS AND HIS INFLUENCES TO POTENTIAL YOUTHFULS FOR THE FUTURE. With a carrer as a full time teacher, Iwatani-san still maintains his legacy for creating the most successful arcade game of all time. "Most Successful Coin-Operated Game"
- Guiness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008 The book states that up to 293,822 machines
of the game have been installed world wide. "#1 most popular video game of all time."
- Killer List of Videogames It was so popular that this song managed to reach #9 on the billboard hot 100 charts. Some of the least likely people seen to play games, including women, the elderly, and even non-humans have played this game That doesn't include the few gaming experts who know Pac-Man down to it's obscure glitches. Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-man
http://games.ign.com/top-100-game-creators/99.html
http://pacman.com/en/history
http://www.pacmanmuseum.com/history/Toru-atwork.php
http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2010/05/pac-man-30-years/
http://web.archive.org/web/20060717132729/http3A//www.klov.com/TOP100.html
http://gamers.guinnessworldrecords.com/
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,921174,00.html
http://www.lcc.gatech.edu/~mateas/publications/MateasDIGRA2003.pdf
http://web.archive.org/web/19980121102807/http://www.gamecenter.com/Features/Exclusives/Pacman/
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