World Stamps

By Denise McCarty

New Stamps of the World: Video game icons appear on Irish stamps issued Oct. 16

October 27, 2014 03:33 PM

  • Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario are pictured on Ireland’s Game Icons stamps issued Oct. 16.

Four new stamps from Ireland feature “four of the most recognizable game icons in modern international culture,” according to Ireland’s An Post.

Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog are pictured on the €0.68 domestic-rate stamps issued Oct. 16.

The earliest of these, Space Invaders, was introduced to the public in 1978. Developed by Tomohio Nishikado and originally manufactured by Taito in Japan, Space Invaders soon came to arcades in the United States.

Under the year 1978 on its video game time line, the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y., said: “Taito’s Space Invaders descends on Japan, causing a shortage of 100-yen coins. Within a year, 60,000 Space Invaders machines in the United States tempt Americans to spend millions of quarters driving back the seemingly unstoppable ranks of attacking aliens.”

This time line can be found online at

Two years later, in 1980, Pac-Man was released in May in Japan, and in October in the United States.

Pac-Man designer Toru Iwatani was thinking of both women and pizza when he created the concept of a yellow dot eating pellets and fruit while avoiding ghosts.

He said in a 2010 interview with Wired magazine: “Around the time that we launched Pac-Man, video arcades were filled with games where you shoot aliens. It seemed very dark. It was for men, it wasn’t fashionable at all. When women would go out, they’d go out in a group of friends or with a boyfriend as a couple. And I realized that if women and couples were going to come to game centers, they had to be cheerful places.

“When you think about things women like, you think about fashion, or fortune-telling, or food or dating boyfriends. So I decided to theme the game around ‘eating’— after eating dinner, women like to have dessert.

“If you take a pizza and remove one piece, it looks like a mouth. That’s where my idea came from.”

Mario made his debut the next year, 1981, as the character Jumpman, a carpenter, in Nintendo’s Donkey Kong. In 1983, he changed his name, switched his profession to plumber and teamed up with his brother Luigi in Mario Bros. Since then, Mario has appeared in more than 200 video games.

Sega introduced Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991 as a rival to Nintendo’s Mario.

Sega describes its blue hedgehog: “For Sonic, speed is a way of life. He runs fast, thinks fast and even eats fast … ”

Zinc Design Consultants designed the stamps. Irish Security Stamp Printing Ltd. printed them by offset in sheets of 16 with the four designs se-tenant (side-by-side). The printing quantity is 256,000 of each design.

Ireland isn’t the first country to issue stamps honoring video game icons. France’s Video Game Characters issue of Nov. 11, 2005, included stamps picturing Pac-Man and Mario, among others (Scott 3155).