Toru Toru Iwatani – Programmers at Work

Toru Toru Iwatani, creator of Pac-Man

In 1986, Susan Lammers published one of the first in-depth interviews with the designer of Pac Man, Toru Iwatani, in a book entitled “Programmers at Work”. The interview is a classic and explores the creative inspiration, and the game design fundamentals that guided Toru Iwatani in the design and development of PacMan.

It was recently published on Susan Lammers´Blog Programmers at Work and while it is out of print in the English Language it will be published for the first time in the chinese language by Turing Books in 2011.

We feature a brief excerpt here and you can follow the link to read the entire interview on the Programmers at Work here:


Susan Lammers: How did you first become interested in computers?

Toru Iwatani: I must tell you, I don’t have any particular interest in them. I’m interested in creating images that communicate with people. A computer is not the only medium that uses images; I could use the movies or television or any other visual medium. It just so happens I use the computer. There’s a limit to what you can do with a computer Hardware limitations become my limitations. They restrict me, and I’m no different from any artist – I don’t like constraints. I’m also limited because the only place the end result appears is on the screen. Turn the computer off, and the images vanish.

Susan Lammers: How did you choose video games as a way of communicating with people?

Toru Iwatani: I entered this company, NAMCO, in 1977. I hadn’t yet established my own personal vision of what I would do here. My contribution to the company just happened to take the form of video games.

Susan Lammers: Had you ever studied game design or design in general?

Toru Iwatani: I had no special training at all; I am completely self-taught. I don’t fit the mold of a visual arts designer or a graphic designer I just had a strong concept about what a game designer is – someone who designs projects to make people happy. That’s his purpose. It’s important for you to understand that I’m not a programmer. I developed the specs and designed the features, but other people who worked with me wrote the program.

To read the full interview, follow this link

Mike Matei

Hey there, I'm Mike Matei, the brains behind, a blog entirely dedicated to the iconic Pac-Man game. As a lifelong fan and geek of classic arcade gaming, I've poured my passion into creating a virtual museum celebrating everything Pac-Man. E-mail / Linkedin