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Life after Pac-Man saw Iwatani work his way up within Namco's ranks, creating games such as Libble Rabble and eventually becoming the company's leading producer on arcade titles like Time Crisis and Ridge Racer.In April of 2005, he began teaching Character Design Studies at the Osaka University of Arts as a visiting professor.

It all started when Midway decided to capitalize on the success of eventual rival Capcom and its blockbuster slugger, Street Fighter II, by creating a unique fighting game of its own.

John Tobias and Ed Boon were tapped as the men who could pull it off -- with Tobias handling much of the design and Boon wielding his programmer's wand to create the overnight success, Mortal Kombat. It was an entirely different experience from Street Fighter altogether.

In early 2007, after working on Pac-Man: Championship Edition, Iwatani left Namco and became a full-time professor at Tokyo Polytechnic University, saying, "I thought it more important to pass on the know-how that I've accumulated over the last 30 years to the next generation." Even if his name isn't instantly recognizable, his work is unforgettable.

Yoji Shinkawa, a Konami illustrator since 1994, is responsible for some of the most indelible character designs this side of the Play Station era, and while his early work on Konami's Policenauts won't have had much Western impact, Shinkawa's pairing with director Hideo Kojima has birthed one of the most beloved franchises of our time.

"When [a game] comes together well, there is very little that is more gratifying," Boon told Edge Magazine in 2006.

"It makes all the hard work worth it." Toru Iwatani is a god among men in the gaming industry.

It's our way of saying "thanks" to the people whose vision and drive have brought us some of the most engrossing, amusing and artistic experiences we've ever had with our TVs and monitors Plus, we love to watch people argue.

"How do you determine who goes on your list," you ask? Here's how we paired down who could and could not appear on our list of... To find out, simply click the numbers of your choice listed above or cheat and glance down at our alphabetical call-outs below.

And while Hideo Kojima threatens to abandon the Metal Gear series in pursuit of new efforts more Western in scope, we anticipate that Shinkawa's artistic brilliance will play a role in not only influencing the game's artistic direction but in also creating the celebrated game characters of tomorrow.

Koichi Ishii has produced and directed numerous big-name games for Square Enix, including Final Fantasy I through III and Sa Ga Frontier.

Since the first Metal Gear Solid over a decade ago, Yoji Shinkawa has continued his influence on Kojima's creations.

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