Out of the Blue

Pizza and Pacman: How the Story Begun

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Pizza and Pacman: How the Story Begun

Pacman began life as a pizza.

One day in the early 1980s, the Japanese video game designer Tohru Iwatani, in the midst of a creative crisis, went out to dinner with a group of friends. While thinking about his desire to invent a game which would revolutionize the market, and bemoaning the low processing power of the hardware of those years, he listlessly ordered a pizza, weighed down by his thoughts.

Legend has it that it was a salami pizza. For a while the pizza remained unsliced on the table. Then someone, noticing Iwatani’s evident lack of appetite, cut off a slice.

Tohru Iwatani then began to stare fixatedly at it, in the grip of a reborn creative instinct, and was struck by a thunderbolt of inspiration, one which was to forever change both the history of videogames and his own life.

Despite being covered in cheese, tomato and grease from the pork fat, this round pizza pie, missing a single slice, suddenly appeared to the designer as a yellow shape with a wide gaping mouth. In his imagination, it looked like a creature that needed to eat, not a dish to be eaten. “Pacman” was born.

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