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The classic video game Pac-Man premiered in Japan 35 years ago today. To mark the occasion, Uproxx rounded up 12 fascinating bits of information in the surprisingly complex history of that game. For example, game designer Toru Iwatani created it in order to appeal to women:
Iwatani wasn’t a fan of ’70s arcades. He thought they were dirty and smelly and figured they’d be much nicer places to visit if somebody other than teenage guys hung out there, so he specifically set out to create a game that would appeal to women and couples.
Iwatani based his design on a deep and comprehensive knowledge of female psychology:
In his mind, girls really liked to eat, particularly sweets and desserts, so he decided to make a game based around eating. I’m not sure that chomping desserts is specifically a girl thing, but it worked out well for Iwatani, so maybe I’m the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
You may laugh at that, but Iwatani was successful in reaching out to women (well, at least professionally):
Iwatani’s gambit worked. While hardened Space Invaders fans turned their noses up at Pac-Man (yes, the hardcore vs. casual gamer divide already existed in 1980) kids, women and older gamers gravitated toward the unique, less stressful charms of Pac-Man. Quickly Pac-Man became the title less obsessive gamers sought out when they were dragged to the arcade, and soon even the hardcore types started to come around.