News – Founder of Namco Masaya Nakamura Passes Away Aged 91

Unfortunately today I have to be the bearer of bad news, as today we learnt that sadly Masaya Nakamura, founder of Namco, has passed away at the age of 91. This news came via a press release from Namco. The press release also revealed that Masaya Nakamura passed away earlier in the month on January 22nd.

Masaya Nakamura founded Namco all the way back in 1955 as an amusement-ride company known as Nakamura Manufacturing. Nakamura Manufacturing then later transitioned into focusing on manufacturing amusement machines, and in turn became known as the Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company, or Namco for short. The company then upped their involvement in the video game industry in the 1970s when Masaya Nakamura and Namco bought out the Japanese arm of Atari.

Masaya Nakamura in his youth at Namco HQ.

As we all know, this is where both Masaya Nakamura and Namco truly found their home. Not only did the company go on to become one of the key figures in the founding of Japan’s video game industry, but through their coin-op classics such as Pac-Man and Galaga, they introduced gaming to millions across the globe.

Being one of the most popular names in all of retro gaming, Namco also managed to survive the 1983 crash of the North American video game market largely unscathed. Under Nakamura’s leadership they even managed to successfully transition from primarily being a maker of arcade cabinets, to that of a manufacturer of console titles. This not only saw them achieve great success in the 8 and 16-bit days, but also nowadays too through the likes of Tekken and Ridge Racer, and of course the evergreen Pac-Man.

Namco’s Pac-Man has gone on to become not only a Japanese pop culture icon, but also a mascot for gaming in general.

All this good work for the gaming industry didn’t go unnoticed either, as in 2007 Nakamura was awarded the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun, for his services to the Japanese gaming industry. And if all that wasn’t enough, it seems as though it was Nakamura himself who suggested the name “Pac” to represent Toru Iwatani’s now iconic creation. Truly gaming fans around the world have a lot to thank Masaya Nakamura for, especially us retro fans.

So from us here at Rings & Coins we’d like to say: “Thank you for everything Masaya Nakamura. Rest well.”

Simon Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that I've written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DudeXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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