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Japanese arcade pioneer Masaya Nakamura, 'Father of Pac-Man', dies aged 91

Masaya Nakamura, the "Father of Pac-Man" who founded the Japanese video game company behind the hit creature-gobbling game, has died at the age of 91.

Nakamura, who died on January 22, held an honorary position at Bandai Namco, formed in 2005 from a merger of two games companies.

He founded Namco in 1955, and its beginnings were humble - just two mechanical horses on the rooftop of a department store. But it went on to pioneer games arcades and amusement parks.

Pac-Man, designed by video game-maker Toru Iwatani, went on sale in 1980. Guinness World Records has named it the world's most successful coin-operated arcade game.

The idea for the game came from the image of a pizza with a slice carved out. It launched at a time when there were few rival games, such as Space Invaders. It is estimated to have been played more than 10 billion times.

Pac-Man is a mainstay of Japanese culture, having inspired T-shirts and other merchandise, animation shows and the nickname for Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.

Nakamura reportedly chose the word "Pac" to represent the munching of the Pac-Man devouring its prey.

Nakamura was a key player in Bandai Namco's global growth.

The company reported his death on Monday, but would not comment on the cause of his death or other personal details, citing his family's wishes.

AP

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