Toru Iwatani

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Toru Iwatani (center) in Gamelab-Barcelona (2015)

Toru Iwatani (岩谷 徹 Iwatani Tōru?, born January 25, 1955) is a former Japanese video game designer and creator of the arcade game Pac-Man.

Life and career[edit]

Iwatani was born in the Meguro ward of Tokyo, Japan. In 1977, he joined the computer software company Namco. This is where he started his career in the video game business. There, he came up with the idea for a game called "Pakku-Man" and in 1980, he, along with programmer Shigeo Funaki (舟木 茂雄), a hardware engineer, a cabinet designer and Toshio Kai (甲斐 敏夫) for sound and music, finished the game. It was released to the Japanese public on May 22 of that year, where it became a huge success. It caught the attention of arcade-game manufacturer Midway, who bought the United States rights for the game and released the game in the U.S. as "Pac-Man". Due to its innovative concept and continuing international popularity, it is regarded as one of the all-time classic video games. Iwatani returned to his Pac-Man roots in 2007 when he developed Pac-Man Championship Edition for the Xbox 360, which he states is the final game he will develop.[1]

Iwatani went on to create a few other video games, including Libble Rabble, but none of them reached the amount of success that Pac-Man did. He was promoted within the ranks of Namco, eventually being responsible for overseeing the administration of the company. In a VH-1 Game Break interview, Iwatani said he did not personally profit from the creation of Pac-Man, saying, "The truth of the matter is, there were no rewards per se for the success of Pac-Man. I was just an employee. There was no change in my salary, no bonus, no official citation of any kind."[2] From April 2005 he taught the subject of Character Design Studies at Osaka University of Arts as visiting professor. Iwatani left Namco in March 2007 to become a full-time lecturer at Tokyo Polytechnic University.[3]

On June 2, 2010 just before visiting an event called the Festival of Games in the Netherlands, Iwatani was photographed showing the original sketches of Pac-Man, making it the first public appearance of these designs.[4][5]

The next day, June 3, 2010, at the Festival of Games, Iwatani received a certificate from Guinness World Records for Pac-Man having the most "coin-operated arcade machines" installed world wide: 293,822. The record was set and recognized in 2005, and recorded in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008.[6]

Denis Akiyama appears as a fictionalized version of Iwatani in the upcoming film Pixels, which prominently features Pac-Man.[7]



  1. ^ Ransom-Wiley, James (2007-06-07). "Chasing pellets: Pac-Man tries to make history again". Joystiq. 
  2. ^ Pfeffer, Helen (2007-06-06). "Exclusive: Pac-Man Creator Speaks!". VH-1. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  3. ^ Wyman, Walt (2006-07-10). "Pac-Man creator leaves Namco Bandai for school". GameSpot. Retrieved 2006-07-31. 
  4. ^ Dierckx, Matthijs (June 22, 2010). "Prof. Toru Iwatani: "This is how I made Pac-Man!"". Control Magazine. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Firth, Niall (June 24, 2010). "Japanese inventor of Pac-Man reveals his original sketches of the iconic video game". Daily Mail (London). 
  6. ^ Müller, Martijn (June 3, 2010). "Pac-Man wereldrecord beklonken en het hele verhaal" (in Dutch). NG-Gamer. [dead link]
  7. ^

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