It started with pizza. Specifically, Shakey’s, the California franchise that invaded Japan and provided game designer Toru Iwatani with the inspiration for the yellow circle with the missing “slice ” for a mouth in 1980’s Puck-Man. Iwatani’s employer, Namco, enjoyed some success at home in Japan, but it was gobbled up in the U.S. (as a harder-to-vulgarize Pac-Man) and elsewhere. More than $1 billion in quarters were dropped in the arcade machines in its first year, cementing Japan’s international cultural imprint and bringing a child- and female-friendly cuteness to video gaming that refuses to get old.
OZY delves into the game’s yakuza influences.