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  • Inspiration can come in the most unusual of places.

  • For Toru Iwatani, his greatest, most popular creation of all time, came from somewhere entirely unexpected.

  • Sat in a restaurant, trying to come up with a brand new video game idea, Toru glanced

  • down at his lunch, a pizza.

  • Just like that, he’d created one of the most iconic games characters of all time.

  • Toru Iwatani wanted to make something special.

  • Arcade games were all the rage, but they all seemed to be far too similar.

  • Shooters were in fashion in a bit way after Space Invaders, and it seemed like every other

  • cabinet Toru came across featured some kind of space element, and far too many guns.

  • He didn’t like this.

  • Video games were getting too formulaic, and only really reaching a single demographic.

  • Wouldn’t it be fun to have a game that people of all ages could play and enjoy?

  • Something that families could play together, as they sat casually in a public space.

  • A game which, instead of solely appealing to dedicated teenage boys, would be fun for

  • women and children to casually approach, without any existing knowledge of how to play games,

  • or what to expect.

  • Toru found himself pondering this one day in a restaurant.

  • He ordered a pizza, and as he snacked, he looked around at his fellow patronseveryone

  • was sitting, chatting, and enjoying food together.

  • He noted that he’d seen an increasing number of arcade machines in restaurants and cafes

  • like this.

  • People liked to sink a few casual coins into a machine while doing other thingsit

  • was this setting that attracted the widest possible audience, not smoke-filled arcades

  • with dark walls and neon lights that only appealed to teenage boys.

  • What if, Toru thought, there was a game that felt more at home in a coffee shop than an

  • arcade?

  • A colorful, bright game, about something fun, that had universal appeal?

  • And then, the idea hit him.

  • He should make a game about eating, where players had to munch as much food as possible!

  • It would be perfect!

  • It would fit the mood of a restaurant or a casual coffee house.

  • Players could snack together as they played a game about snacking!

  • But what game character would perfectly symbolize this eating process?

  • What should his protagonist look like?

  • Toru looked down.

  • There, in front of him, was a half-eaten pizza.

  • That was it!

  • That was the shape!

  • Toru was thrilled.

  • After all, if he squinted a bit, his half-eaten pizza even looked like the Japanese character

  • for mouth!

  • And so, Toru set to work.

  • At first, his game developers thought he was crazy.

  • They weren’t sure why Toru was insisting on such a strange design, and why he refused

  • to accept any alternatives.

  • They showed Toru suggestions for more complex charactersafter all, the game engine

  • could support thembut Toru would not be moved.

  • His new game would feature a half-eaten pizza as a protagonist, and nothing else was acceptable.

  • For enemies, Toru decided to create colorful characters that were inspired by Saturday

  • morning cartoons.

  • He figured that a collection of bright, dynamic enemies, would make the experience more enjoyable,

  • and would give people more reason to stop in a busy arcade to see what was going on.

  • He also liked the idea of using villains that couldn’t be killed.

  • This game was going to be light, and fun, and it wouldn’t feature a hero who murders

  • he way through opponents.

  • Instead, ghosts could easily respawn, without their deaths feeling violent.

  • Toru decided on a variety of different fruits as bonus items in the gamethey fit the

  • food theme, and also added extra color to the screen.

  • He also started crafting cutscenes to reward the player with.

  • These little animations served to give players something to strive for, as well as making

  • the game look more appealing from afar.

  • And so, Pac-Man was born.

  • It turned out that Toru was right about everythingthe simple character design made it easy

  • for players to identify and sympathize with Pac-Man, and the cabinets drew a wider audience

  • than just the teenage shooter fans that filled most arcades.

  • Pac-Man went on to become one of, if not the, most recognizable character in video games,

  • and his debut title spawned a wave of similar titles, spin-offs, and pop-culture references.

  • So what’s the moral here?

  • Well, it’s important to remember that inspiration can strike in the strangest of places.

  • No matter where you are, or what youre doing, be ready for a good idea to appear.

  • You never know when you might come up with the perfect plan to succeed at whatever it

  • is youre trying to achieve in life.

  • Perhaps, most importantly of all, never underestimate the value of a good meal.

Inspiration can come in the most unusual of places.

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Pac-Man: The Story of Toru Iwatani and the Pizza That Revolutionized Arcade Games

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    Amy.Lin posted on 2017/08/08
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