Founder of Japanese games publisher Namco, Masaya Nakamura, passed away on January 22 at age 91.
Bandai Namco announced the news on Monday on their corporate website and asked for respect of the Nakamura family’s privacy. Therefore details have not been released and honestly, we don’t need them. Nakamura’s passing is a tragic loss for the international gaming community. However, we can thank him for inspiring many developers and games for years to come with icons like Pac-Man.
Masaya Nakamura was born in 1925 in Japan and went on to thrive through the economic recovery of World War II. Nakamura graduated from the Yokahama National University in 1948, later founding Nakamura Manufacturing in 1955.
After years of making and selling kiddie rides, Nakamura Manufacturing was renamed Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company or NAMMCo in 1977. From there the name Namco was born.
Forging ahead to video games like Pac-Man
In the 1970s, Nakamura directed his company NAMMCo to change focus to video games, seeing the potential in fun again. Later, the company was renamed Namco and Nakamura hiring software engineers to create original arcade games. Nakamura was known to test all of the company’s games for their amusement value.
Following his instincts with the potential of a video gaming industry thriving, Nakamura purchased Atari Inc.’s Japan division and sold them for years. In 1979, Namco released Galaxian which it later sold and the following year struck gold with cultural icon Pac-man.
One of the new software engineers Nakamura hired, Toru Iwatani, developed Pac-Man with vision of a pizza with a slice missing. Further, the word ‘Pac’ came from the word pakku which is the noise Pac-Man makes when eating monsters and ghosts.
In 2005, Namco merged with Bandai to make Bandai Namco Entertainment and the company continues to publish popular games like Tekken 7 and Dark Souls III. Nakamura got inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame in 2010 and remained an honorary advisor at Bandai Namco.
Truly a great man, Masaya Nakamura gave the gaming world an invaluable gift and is remembered for the joy he brought to millions of people in addition to his entrepreneurship and dignity.