Namco Founder Masaya Nakamura Has Died

Namco founder and arcade game pioneer Masaya Nakamura died last week at age 91.

Nakamura, who was also an executive producer on a number of Nikkatsu titles after Namco purchased the studio in 1993, was influential in the rise of one of the most successful video game empires of the 20th Century.

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Nakamura founded Namco in 1955 and presided over the company for decades. Originally called Nakamura Manufacturing, the company made primarily amusement park rides in the early days, but the rise of arcade games in the '70s was a game-changer for them. While most Americans likely don't remember Galaxian, Namco's 1979 game intended to rival Space Invaders, its success emboldened Namco to move forward into, among other things, Pac-Man.

Nakamura is likely best known as the "father of Pac-Man," the video game that holds the Guinness World Record for arcade games, having been played more than 10 billion times. While Nakamura himself did not design the game (that was Toru Iwatani), he did champion it.

Even years later, as home consoles started to dominate the video game market and arcade cabinets were seemingly on their way out, Namco introduced franchises like Time Crisis and Soulcalibur, which created unique gaming experiences and successful new franchises for the company.

Like the later phenomenon of Tetris, Pac-Man was able to capitalize on not only being addictive and simple to grasp, but all-ages friendly as it was the rare video game that lacked violence.

Nakamura's death took place on January 22, and was announced was announced in Tokyo on Monday by Bandai Namco.

Nakamura was also a hidden playable character in the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 game.