Thursday, May 13, 2010
Happy Birthday - Well Almost
To a man-made legend. The first video game character was born 30 years ago.
Pacman. The bigmouthed collection of pixels that started it all. Sure, there was that little spaceship shooter game Space Invaders, but Pac-Man was the first video game icon with a personality. He was originally Puck Man, but when unleashed on North America on my 4th birthday (May 22), his name was changed so teenagers wouldn't vandalize the game by changing the "P" to an "F" . He wasn't a hit in Japan, but when the little yellow guy that ate everything hit our shores, an icon was born.
Kids loved the idea of a character they could be and its seemingly infinite number of levels meant more bang for your quarter. And there was a nemesis to be afraid of. We empathized with the underdog. And that brought in female fans with their quarters. In a way, Pac-Man became the great geek equalizer.
Soon after, manufacturers scrambled to invent new icons, and while Q-Bert and Mario might have tried, Pac-Man remains the most identifiable pixel personality on the planet. You can still find Pac-Man in bars, basements, and even on the iPad. While you won't find the lovable glutton on your pajamas anymore, he still makes many many millions of dollars in sales per year and will as long as those of us who remember are still alive.
So happy (almost) birthday to the groundbreaking little dude that put emotion into gaming.
Long live the most unlikely of kings.
Posted by Michel-Exildas Galipeau at 22:43