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Tech Council keynote speaker Steve Golson shares Ms. Pac-Man's life story

June 16. 2018 11:53PM

Steve Golson holds a logo of the Ms. Pac-Man game he helped create in the early '80s. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

If not for a wise marketing person, Midway's Ms. Pac-Man would have debuted in video arcades in 1982 as an unwed mother.

Steve Golson, who invented Ms. Pac-Man with several of his MIT colleagues, says the game was almost shipped as "Miss Pac-Man" - probably not the best moniker for a game that includes scenes of Pac-Man and his lady friend meeting, falling in love and getting a delivery from a stork.

Golson and his co-developers at General Computer Co. had been calling the game Crazy Otto, since it was meant to be a competitor to Midway's Pac-Man. But when Midway hired them to work on game development, they were free to use the trademark, Golson said Wednesday during a keynote talk at the New Hampshire High Tech Council's Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Midway liked the idea of having a female character in the game - Golson's team had been calling it "Super Pac-Man" - and asked that the title focus on her instead.

"The name was going to be Miss Pac-Man. I actually have a piece of the intitial hardware that was built, and that's what it says on it," Golson said. "Until finally some brilliant marketing person says, 'Oh, my god. She has a baby!'"

"Pac-Woman" was suggested as an alternative.

"That lasted less than a week. And then it was like 'Ms. Pac-Man,'" Golson said. "We said, 'All right, We're tired of making changes at this point.'"

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