Toru Iwatani, creator of the beloved Pac-Man arcade game, is now a university professor teaching young people the art of video games.
Pac-Man was released in 1980 by video game developer Namco (present-day Bandai Namco Entertainment) and took arcades around the world by storm. Iwatani, who was an employee at Namco at the time, later became a professor at Tokyo Polytechnic University Faculty of Arts' video game development department in 2007, where he now teaches game planning and programming.
"The development of Pac-Man started as a way to attract women to arcades, which were generally a men's playground. We thought that women liked to eat, so we came up with the idea of making a video game where a cute character eats little monsters rather than a savage video game where you kill your enemies," Iwatani recalls. He says the shape of Pac-Man was inspired by a pizza with one slice missing.
Iwatani is now working on developing products using video game technology to help the elderly avoid the need for nursing care. He jointly developed a paddling exercise machine with a fitness equipment manufacturer, which helps users improve arm and leg muscles as well as cardiopulmonary function while playing a video game. Iwatani and his team have already launched the product on the market, while he continues to seek new areas where video games can make a valuable difference.
"With a playful mind, people can have fun and develop kindness, which will ultimately enrich societies. I want to support students who can challenge themselves to achieve this," Iwatani commented.