WATCH: "Father of Pac-man" Masaya Nakamura dead at 91

Nakamura, founder of the popular video game company Namco, passed away on Jan. 22

Published January 31, 2017 10:00AM (EST)

It was announced Monday that Masaya Nakamura, the “father of Pac-Man” and founder of video game company Namco, passed away on Jan. 22.

An engineer, Nakamura established what was originally a manufacturing company for children amusement toys and rides, but it quickly developed into a video game distribution company. He first purchased a mechanical horse ride and ran his company out of a department store in Japan.

Namco notably bought Atari in 1985, quickly making it one of the biggest video game companies of its time. Namco is perhaps best known for releasing the pop culture phenomenon Pac-Man, or "Puck-Man" in Japan. But the company is also famous for games such as Galaga, Pole Position, Dig Dug, Ridge Racer and Tekken, among others.

Namco was one of the most popular arcade names during the 1980s, and it's still going strong today. Recently Namco merged with the successful toy company Bandai, resulting in Bandai Namco.

News of Nakamura's death hit the video game industry hard. Nintendo tweeted out a message about Nakamura earlier today.

Nintendo and Namco have maintained a close relationship since the rise of video games in the mainstream — Namco games have been popularized with the help of Nintendo's video game consoles. 

As Nintendo said, Nakamura changed gaming for the better, and he'll be missed.

By Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith is an associate video producer at Salon. He has an unhealthy obsession with Mickey Mouse and video games, and regularly tweets about both.

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Arcade Masaya Nakamura Namco Obituaries Original Video Pac-man Pacman Video Games