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Do you think you know Pac-Man? One of the original icons of video games was born in Japan as Puck-Man. However, Pac-Man's roots go through Chicago, and he wouldn't be a legend today without his stint in the Windy City. Video game historian and author Tim Lapetino is working on a new book about the history of Pac-Man. Lapetino was also a special guest on the C2E2 Live Stage for the Pac-Man's Chicago Roots panel. While there, Lapetino shared a few insights about Pac-Man's appeal.
"People forget that Pac-Man was one of the first character-based games, where there was somebody who had a little bit of personality and you weren't just a ship, or a base, or a square," said Lapetino. "Pac-Man has an anima, a reason for being, even if it's just to eat ... He's somebody that people can get behind. I think that's part of the popularity."
Namco developed the game in Japan, but it was a Chicago-based company called Midway that was tasked with localizing the game for an American audience. According to Lapetino, Chicago's gaming history made it an ideal location for Pac-Man's second genesis.
"One of the funny things is that I don't think people realize that even before arcade games were big, Chicago was basically the home of pinball," recalled Lapetino. "So many pinball companies were here, and there's this whole network of distributors, cabinet makers, and fabricators. When Pac-Man got huge, and then other video game companies took up the torch, [Chicago] was sort of the Detroit of arcade manufacturing."
Additionally, Lapetino spoke about Pac-Man's role in the rise of the arcades, as well as the unexpected origins of Ms. Pac-Man. But you'll have to insert coins and watch the entire video to hear all of the stories!