Toru Iwatani. Pac-Man. 1980
Toru Iwatani

Pac-Man

1980
On view
Medium
Video game software
Publisher
NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc.
Credit
Gift of BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
Object number
1745.2012
Copyright
© 2015 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc.
Department
Architecture and Design

Pac-Man is one the earliest examples of an interactive flat landscape—a maze, in this case—in a computer game. At the time of its genesis, the most popular arcade games were shooter games, like Space Invaders and Asteroids. Iwatani wanted to develop a nonviolent game for the teenage couples and groups that were beginning to frequent arcades in addition to boys. While eating pizza for lunch one day he had a vision of his character—a giant yellow circle with a wedge removed for a mouth. In creating the colorful ghosts that are Pac-Man’s nemeses, Iwatani chose cuteness over scariness, hoping to appeal to female players. The player controls Pac-Man with a joystick, directing him to eat all of the dots in the maze while eluding the ghosts, who can end his life. If he succeeds, he moves up a level. Eating special power pellets gives Pac-Man the ability to kill the ghosts, and by eating transformed ghosts, assorted fruits, and other objects the player can gain bonus points. Eating to gain power, Iwatani has said, was a concept he borrowed from Popeye.

Gallery label from Applied Design, March 2, 2013–January 31, 2014

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource