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'Father of Pac-Man' and video game pioneer Masaya Nakamura dies

The founder of the company that developed the world's most successful arcade game, Pac-Man, has died. Over six decades, Masaya Nakamura turned a small entertainment company into a global conglomerate.

The founder of the pioneering video game producer Namco died on January 22, parent company Bandai Namco reported on Monday. Masaya Nakamura was 91. The company did not reveal the cause of his death, citing his family's wishes.

Initially, the company Nakamura created in 1955 produced mechanical rodeo-horses and similar devices for children. Namco started out with just two wooden horses on the rooftop of a department store. In the 1970s, the firm started producing coin-operated arcade video games as one of the pioneers in the field.

Masaya Nakamura - Gründer von Pac-Man gestorben (picture-alliance/dpa/AP/Kyodo News)

Masaya Nakamura turned a small company into a global video game pioneer

The company's most successful game - Pac-Man - was first released in 1980. The game developed by video game creator Toru Iwatani started out as an arcade game but later spawned versions on various other devices, from home video consoles to cellphones. The design and objective of the game are as simple as they are iconic: Pac-Man, a yellow circle with a slice cut out for a mouth, has to hunt down and swallow ghosts.  Today, the discernible Pac-Man icon, which was reportedly inspired by the image of a pizza with one slice cut out, enjoys cult status and adorns T-shirts and other merchandise. In 2005, the game was immortalized in the Guinness Book as the world's most successful coin-operated arcade game - it is estimated that the game has been played more than 10 billion times.

Masaya Nakamura took pride in producing games like Pac-Man, saying that his company provided people with varied and total entertainment. 

In 2005, Masaya Nakamura's company Namco - by that point a big player in the development of video games for various devices, not just arcades - merged with Bandai, another Japanese game developer. Bandai Namco is now one of the world's biggest producers of toys and computer games. Nakamura last served as one of the top adviser's in the company. He was reportedly one of the key player's in the global growth of the company.    

mb/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)

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