The term "Game Pak" is the official Nintendo designation for a game cartridge designed for use in a Nintendo Entertainment System
, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
, Nintendo 64
, Virtual Boy
, Game Boy
, Game Boy Color
, or Game Boy Advance
game system. So why are they called "pak"s and not "pack"s? The answer has nothing to do specifically with the technology, but with the state of the video game industry
at the time of the NES
When Nintendo began to market their whiz-bang game system to retailers in 1985, they hit a roadblock: after the collapse of the Atari home video game systems, retailers wanted nothing to do with anything that took cartridges and played video games. The stores had lost too much money on Atari's fallout and did not want to get into that situation again. So what's Nintendo to do?
Ever notice how the Nintendo Entertainment System is not once described or designated as a "home computer" or "video game system"? Instead it's an "Entertainment System" - a device designed for entertainment. This device requires the use of "Game Pak"s, not "Game Cartridge"s. See the difference? Well, apparently the stores in New York City and Los Angeles did and agreed to test market the NES over the holiday shopping season. The rest, as they say, is history.
Perhaps it was tradition or maybe it was Nintendo not wanting to admit years later that the NES did use cartridges, but with the debut of Nintendo's other cartridge-based systems the usage of the term "Game Pak" continued. Furthermore, most all other nifty gadgets that plugged into a Nintendo console beared the term "Pak", such as the Controller Pak, the Expansion Pak, the Rumble Pak, and the Transfer Pak to name a few.
So there you have it, the story of Pak wrapped up into a neat little pakage.