How 'Monkey Nuts' Became 'Halo,' and Other Tales of Video-Game Naming

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These 13 games found their monikers in some very surprising places.

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It's not easy to create a game based solely on the concept of eating. But Namco employee Tōru Iwatani did just that in 1980 by taking the idea of a pizza with a slice missing, and then having it eat a bunch of dots while being chased by ghosts in a maze. (Iwatani has also said that the shape is a rounded version of the square Japanese character for "mouth.") The name of the game, Pakkuman, was inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeia, "paku-paku," which describes the sound of eating, similar to the English word "chomp." As the game was brought to market, the title morphed into Puck Man.

But when Puck Man made his way to North America there was concern that the arcade cabinets would be vandalized by making the P into an F to spell something entirely different. A compromise was reached and the game became known as Pac-Man instead. Thanks to the American marketing machine, the name Pac-Man was eventually adopted for the game all over the world.

Below, read the stories of how 12 other famous video games got their names, and what they were almost called.



A version of this post originally appeared on Mental Floss, an Atlantic partner site.

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Rob Lammle writes for Mental Floss.

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