Three decades of Pac-Man

17 May 2010

A turning point in arcade gaming and one of the most famous video game characters of all time, the iconic power-pellet chomping, ghost-fearing superhero Pac-Man turns 30 this year.

Developed as an arcade game by Japanese developer and publisher Namco, Pac-Man made his debut on 22 May 1980 and soon became a regular fixture in video arcades – a refreshing move away from the galactic-themed Space Invaders and Asteroids.

The premise of Pac-Man was simple: a small circular yellow character navigated his way around a maze, chomping on Pac-dots, power-pellets and fruit while avoiding the four different ghosties that haunted said maze.

Not only has the popularity of Pac-Man endured, but peering through nostalgia-tinted glasses the kids of the Eighties turned him into a cult icon, adorning T-shirts, posters, bags and even becoming a fixture in urban post-modern graffiti runs.

Pac-Man event marking anniversary

This week, to celebrate his 30th birthday, the town of Swindon in Wiltshire, England, will be hosting a human Pac-Man event, one of the largest of its kind ever to be constructed.

A specially constructed maze in Swindon town will be the venue as members of the public get a chance to control a real-life human Pac-Man while a video camera over the maze gives a bird’s eye view.

Pac-Man is the world’s most widely recognised games character. We couldn’t let this day pass without celebrating the 30th anniversary of this groundbreaking game, so we’re doing it in style. It’s going to be quite an event,” said Simon Webb, curator of the Museum of Computing, located in Swindon, the first museum dedicated to the history of computing and digital development.

Pac-Man was my first introduction to cocktail cabinet gaming,” said museum volunteer Andy Romain.

“Sitting with a pint of coke and being drawn into the neon-like maze world of this little yellow iconic character. Then I was thrilled when I was given a Grandstand handheld version of the game. Pac-Man – the pill-popping, ghost-gulping figurehead of a gaming revolution!”

By Marie Boran

Photo: The Pac-Man video game