Pac-Man creator leaves Namco Bandai for school

With career training in Japanese gaming "on the verge of crisis," Toru Iwatani explains why he's leaving his employer of almost three decades.

Toru Iwatani, best known as the creator of Namco mascot Pac-Man, is set to leave his employer of almost 30 years next March in order to teach his craft to aspiring developers. In an interview in the latest issue of Weekly Famitsu, Iwatani discussed his motivations for the move.

Iwatani explained that in 2004 he participated in a series of lectures on game planning held by Namco in conjunction with the Tokyo Polytechnic University. After this, he started lecturing regularly at several universities.

"I experienced firsthand the passion today's young people have for games," Iwatani told Famitsu Weekly. "I also realized how important teaching is. So, when TPU told me they were beginning a new course on games, and asked me to become a full-time lecturer, I decided to do it."

Although he wanted to keep making games, he felt he was needed elsewhere. "I thought it more important to pass on the know-how that I've accumulated over the last 30 years to the next generation," he said. "Right now, the state of career training in the Japanese games industry is on the verge of crisis."

According to Iwatani, the evolution of hardware has created incredible difficulties for publishers. "It will become very hard to train staff in-house, as was done in the past," Iwatani said. "As a result, the educational institutions must follow through. However, Japan is far behind in the field of game education compared with the US, Europe, Korea, and China."

Iwatani also expressed his hope that other veteran game designers will take a hand in training the next generation of game makers, saying that different corporate cultures yielded different ways of doing things. Having those diverse points of view ties into the importance of the school as both a place of learning and research for Iwatani.

"For example, mental training games have become very popular lately," he said. "TPU has set up facilities to monitor brain activity so that we can thoroughly investigate the relationship between games and brain activation. … It is necessary to verify that the claims [made by brain-training games] are valid from a scientific viewpoint. As the impact of games on society grows, they will be subject to criticism."

However, the main thing Iwatani hopes to impress on Japan's future game creators is the crucial role of communication in the workplace.

"Game development is a group activity, so communication is crucial," Iwatani said. "On the other hand, it's a creative process, so assertiveness is necessary. I hope to foster in my students a balance between assertiveness and cooperation."

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Discussion

44 comments
_Sam_
_Sam_

He's set for life financially, but he's still doing this, good for him

SophinaK
SophinaK

Well I can't think of a better reason to go. Maybe one of his students will make the next really legendary game. One so big even my mother has heard of it...

mrzero1982pt2
mrzero1982pt2

i agree. good luck man, heres hoping you can spark future developers to creat a legacy as bright as yours!!!

Konfusion
Konfusion

He's going for a good reason. There is absolutely no reason to disagree. Great man... here's whishing he's got his best days ahead of him.

shizwill03
shizwill03

Whoa. That is pretty frecking awesome. Best wishes and how much is tuition at TPU? :wink:

ghostadv
ghostadv

Good for him. I hope everything works out for him :)

ParaParaKing
ParaParaKing

It's good to hear, that one of the greatest in video game history will teach the video creators of tommorow. Hopefully we will see a lot of new ideas coming from those young creators.

lunaticsynapse
lunaticsynapse

A LOT of US designers need to sit in on that class....

nestea_king
nestea_king

What a cool guy. Shigeru should do that too!

Oni
Oni

Great man! Lord knows this world need good teachers. I've met alot of hateful instructors who hated their jobs when I was in college. We need people to be enthusiastic about what they are teaching. It will inspire students.

rynmls
rynmls

great decision man...

Bio_Spark
Bio_Spark

Who knows what this man could teach? You know, if all of the industry greats got together they could make/pass on the secrets of the greatest game ever. The whole world would love every last aspect of it somehow. I could see the headlines: "Video Games bring World Unity" "Jack Thompson Explodes from Mental Paradox"

Gr8_Mighty_Poo
Gr8_Mighty_Poo

Toru Iwatani, master of all things that Pac, he can be my sensei, i am sure he is extremely knowledgable considering he has been in the industry for as long as he has

Disinfo
Disinfo

Oh, I would LOVE to be in that class!

vaejas
vaejas

Cheers to the next generation of creators. May your pellets be many and your ghosts blue.

budlongmv
budlongmv

I go to The Art Institute in Orange County learning Game Art and Design, It's awsome that more developers want to help the next generation to make better games. By the way there are plenty of schools in North America that teach Game Design, like Full Sail in Flordia, and Academy of Art College in SF, and the Art Institutes. There are other schools you just need to look for them.

TitusAndronicus
TitusAndronicus

Good for him. The world can always use more teachers, especially those with experience in the field.

Ol_skool_Gamer
Ol_skool_Gamer

There are colleges that teach Game Design. Got a book about it.. somewhere. :P Don't ask me of the colleges names tho.

SNKrock
SNKrock

Interesting. testament to a dedication to his craft, i get warm feelings just thinking about it. I hope this is a continued theme. Hopefully someday Hideo Kojima and Shigeryu Miyamoto will one day be teaching the next generation of great game designers.

gameloverx
gameloverx

well its good he's lending his talents to developers

playwrite
playwrite

wait...we have game education programs? what is this guy on (other than the white pills)?

Spike_97
Spike_97

Wait!.....Namco and Bandai became one?!

thepeter
thepeter

Boss, why'd you defect?!

gamer_10001
gamer_10001

There need to be schools that teach about game design, instead of computer science

JanusAchilles
JanusAchilles

Namco should be proud this pioneer of theirs is serving a greater role by teaching the next generation of minds.

darkfox101
darkfox101

Pac man was the bes t1st game!!!

starcutter20000
starcutter20000

I guess it would make sense since we haven't seen japaese developers dominate for a while now... (Civ IV, GTA, SIms, Half-Life being among the to games)

ForlonHope
ForlonHope

good that Japan has finally started caring for its youth

grayoldwolf
grayoldwolf

Almost makes me want to switch universities. Shame my Japanese isn't up to it.

szindragon
szindragon

Well, all I can say is good luck and Wakka Wakka Wakka Wakka Wakka

mike468
mike468

That is cool of him. IThe game industry is getting bigger, and developers really can't afford to training thier employees in house like he said. Plenty of gamers I'm sure have wanted to get into gaming for years, but didn't know how to. I'm pretty glad to see college degrees starting to spring up in this field. It's nice of him to realize that he's need more at passing his knowlendge on now.

HyperMetaDragon
HyperMetaDragon

Goodbye. You taught us a lot about videogames and gave them a good headstart!

paradyme777
paradyme777

Cool, I think he should teach, best way to spread on the word of gaming to the next gen

boblighte
boblighte

Japan is behind on teaching people how to make games? I can't believe Japan is behind on anything about games.

Rumstocker
Rumstocker

GOB: Games Over Brains ....... not BOG

T1Panda
T1Panda

That's cool that he's going to be passing on his knowledge.