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Illustrated by EEK.
Pac-Man really did change the world. I hope he knows how special he is. This heroic little yellow sprite altered the way we entertain ourselves and should be thanked for it often.
The video game that came to define a generation - and truly transform the rest of the industry forever - started its wild rise back in the 80s, when graphics didn’t matter and arcades were still a thing. Namco created the game, originally titled Puck-Man, in June 1980. It was created in response to the violent games that were currently taking the world by storm like...Space Invaders and Asteroid. It is crazy to think that those games were once considered violent when you think of what gets released today but, hey, the 80s!
Anyway, Puck-Man was soon called Pac-Man because people like to vandalize things and changing just one letter in Puck makes the game very adult and non-family-friendly. Soon, the little yellow hero was off to take the world by storm, including in the United States where it quickly captivated an entire nation practically overnight. People were sucked in by the simplicity of the game and the easy-to-understand controls and concepts. The bright colors, the easy objectives, the fun sounds — it all added up to create a masterpiece.
It cannot be stressed enough that Pac-Man was also the first video game to have multiple characters. It’s true, before that game there was maybe one blocky character front-and-center in a game or a bunch of digitized machinery you were controlling. Pac-Man added not only the lead titular hero but also the series of ghosts in supporting roles. Eventually, the franchise would also introduce Ms. Pac-Man which was again a brand new thing in video games: the mega-successful sequel.
Pac-Man laid the groundwork for so many aspects that would become commonplace in the video game industry. Characters, sequels, the viral sensation of a game taking a nation by storm. Oh, and the money it earned. Pac-Man racked in so, so much cash.
Today people think of Pac-Man as an ancient game that hasn’t had a sequel in years, something that belongs in the history books. But that doesn’t give it enough credit. The game was a ground-breaking success that truly shook the medium and advanced it forward in some major ways. You can keep your Fortnites and your Calls of Duty, my wife and I will stick with Pac-Man.
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