Pac-Man Celebrates 25th Anniversary, Still Gobbles Up Attention I could hardly believe my eyes when I read in this morning's paper that Pac-Man is now 25 years old. I can remember playing the game when it first came out, yet I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning. (Chances are, it was a Diet Coke and a granola bar, because I didn't have any chocolate cake in the house.) Pac-Man remains the only video game I've ever really enjoyed. Perhaps it's the appeal of getting to be both the hunter and the hunted. Or maybe I feel a bond with the little guy because he was conceived during a meal. (Get your mind out of the gutter - I mean the guy who created Pac-Man, Toru Iwatani, was eating pizza when he came up with the idea.) The fact is, if you find yourself in a pizza joint that doesn't have a Pac-Man machine available, you need to consider switching to a place with more character. Pac-Man is to beer and pizza what puzzle triangles with golf tees are to wholeome places like Folks and Cracker Barrel. In any event, when Pac-Man was released, he was an instant hit. Moreover, this simple video game spawned an industry that gets stronger every year. Two years into its existence, it even inspired Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia to spoof the popular "Cat Scratch Fever" with their own song, "Pac-Man Fever," which sold almost 2 million copies. Now you can choose between TWO really obnoxious songs. Thanks to the anniversary hoopla, the song is being re-released on the artists' web site at www.buknergarcia.com because heaven knows, if it was bad enough the first go 'round, it'll improve by just downloading it onto your iPod. Of course, Pac-Man probably wouldn't have become the best-selling coin operated game in history (over $100 million one quarter at a time!) had it not made changes along the way to remain relevant. The most notable change was when Namco America introduced Ms. Pac-Man, which instantly brought in the female players, many of whom remain avid players today. The company also licensed Pac-Man to over 250 other companies, which produced over 400 Pac-Man related products. This creative thinking employs the P in SPUD. In this case, P stands for Proactive. Namco proactively sought out opportunities to build alliances and find ways to get Pac-Man into the hands of more people around the globe quickly. (You'll have to return to this blog if you want to learn what the other letters stand for. Surely you didn't think I'd skin the whole tater in one post, did you?) When I first started playing Pac-Man, I had to stand at a tall, hulking yellow vertical box looking down. Today, millions of fans enjoy the game any time the urge strikes them because it's available in all kinds of formats that fit in the palm of your hand. Maybe you're a parent who has entertained a child with a cell phone loaded with a Pac-Man game. Or perhaps you've wasted away hours yourself playing the game on your PDA while others in the restaurant assumed you were furiously inputting information for an important contract that will save your company. Pac-Man's longevity is a great lesson in how a very simple concept can remain relevant over many years in many different formats. You see, remaining relevant isn't always about finding the next big thing. Sometimes, it's about just finding ways to expand on an existing idea by looking for new ways to implement it. What are you doing to keep your product, service or idea fresh? Will we be reading about your 25th anniversary or will you be gobbled up by then?


At July 15, 2005 8:12 PM, Anonymous VAfromGA said...

Since after Pac Man came Pac Women, maybe my I should take my organization. and create a further subsets in it....

Who knew that the 25 year old dot eating machine would turn English into

Some people say why can't we all play together, to which I answer, we can! Yet, it is just not that often you see a group of women getting together to have mannie - pedies and discuss work issues.

You have me intrigued with the SPUD acronym, so I will take a stab at it. You gotta have a "Special" idea - you covered the "P", at least a few people should feel "Urgent" about discussing the concept, and for the "D," well, by God, it ought to "Deliver" something - piece of mind, a few pesos or at least - some great PR!

At July 15, 2005 8:54 PM, Blogger Marilynn Mobley said...

Great guess at the SPUD acronym. Although what I have in mind is different from what you've suggested, your ideas are great too. In future postings, I'll tell you what SPUD means for relevant organizations, but I'll also share what irrelevant organizations do that result in SPUD Duds. Stay tuned! Thanks for your insight.

At July 16, 2005 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" a few weeks ago, they said somewhere in Japan they play PacMan on the streets with real people being the characters. I'm not sure exactly how this works, but the point is that even at 25 this simple game has remained relevant, as you point out.

Thanks for your witty and thought-provoking insights.


At July 21, 2005 2:33 PM, Anonymous Christopher Curzio said...

Whether it's some insight into gender roles or just a coincidence, I'm not sure, but it's an indisputable fact that Ms. Pac Man is superior to the original.

At July 21, 2005 2:38 PM, Blogger Marilynn Mobley said...

I agree - Ms. Pac Man rocks! And while I can't prove it, I strongly suspect it's a reflection of the superiority of the gender that gave the game its edge. :-)

At July 26, 2005 3:24 PM, Blogger Wayne said...

They also did "live" pacman in NYC...

See Pac Manhattan

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