In 1977, 22 year-old Tōru Iwatani started his career with a computer software company called Namco. He had an idea about creating a video game based on the concept of eating. Over the course of 1979 Iwatani and a nine-man team would work on “Pakkuman.” The original Japanese title was inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeic slang phrase “paku-paku taberu” where paku-paku describes the sound of the mouth movement when widely opened and then closed in succession.
Among his team was programmer Shigeo Funaki, a hardware engineer and Toshio Kai who worked on the sound and music. With this game, Iwatani wanted to appeal to a wider audience beyond the typical demographics, primarily women who weren’t often seen in arcades at the time.
At the same time of development, Namco was creating “Rally X,” both “Rally X” and “Pakkuman” were demonstrated at a Tokyo game show. People were head-over-heels for “Rally X,” and many people didn’t have high hopes for this bizarre game about eating dots. Namco launched the game in Japan in 1980, where it received a lukewarm response. “Space Invaders” was the most popular game at the time, and “Pakkuman” wasn’t changing that anytime soon.
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 3
The Legend of Zelda
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert once provoked the wide community of gamers by asking the question: Are video games art? One of his key arguments stated that video games aren’t an art because the audience had too much control over the outcome of the protagonist.
A long time ago this argument was brought up about movies, and before that about theatrical production. The key argument then was: Is it art when it’s created through collaboration? Often the directors get sole credit for a film’s artistic style, but many key positions include: writers, producers, editors, production designers, cinematographers, all the way down to the makeup artists and set decorators. Some more minimal than others, all have an artistic input to the production of a film.
Much like films, video games are a collaborative art form. Some games have reportedly taken over 5 years to fully develop.