What Was Pac-Man’s Original Name?

Surprisingly enough, the character we all know and love as Pac-man used to have a different identity. The Pac-man arcade machine game was invented by three primary contributors. Toru Iwatani and two others planned and designed the game, along with creating graphics and music. Namco released the game in 1980 to moderate interest in Japan, but it soon took off in North America. Soon after its release, it became a pop-culture phenomenon, igniting interest around the globe. After Pac-man was out for 15 months in the United States, arcade enthusiasts had already spent over $1 billion in coins. Though the game originated in Japan, Pac-man would grow to be the most recognized videogame character of all time, according to the Guinness World Book of Records.


So what name did he used to go by? The game’s developers initially called him “Puck-man,” based on the Japanese word paku, which means “chomp.” Fitting, don’t you think? However, as Puck-man’s popularity spread to the United States, arcade owners became seriously worried about vandals. They feared that “Puck” would become an explicit four letter word on all of their arcade machines. So a change of name was in order.


“Pac-man” was suggested, and it’s been that way ever since. These days, the Pac-man arcade machine is still an iconic mark of the 1980s and the growth in videogame popularity, with Pac-man as the most successful coin-operated game of all time. Pac-man inspired a television series, hit music and millions of dollars in merchandise sales. Today, the “Pac-man defense” is a term used to describe a company that resists a takeover by absorbing the company whose mission was to buy it out. Pac-man’s influence has gone beyond the scope of a coin-operated arcade machine.


The Pac-man arcade machine was one of the first games to target audiences outside of the traditional male demographic, and continues to attract young arcade lovers today. “Puck-man” was a catchy first try, but “Pac-man” will be remembered throughout history.