Monday, May 16, 2005

Pac-Man turns 25

Absolutely anyone who grew up in my generation is intimately familiar with one of the most revolutionary video games in history. Of course, I am talking about Pac-Man, and its many variations and offshoots. Last week, the game turned 25 years old. Reading the story in the news took me back to that time, where as a child, I watched this phenomenon unfold in front of my eyes.

It was the early 1980s. I was an elementary school kid in the suburbs of Toronto. First came the original Pac-Man, then one year later, his partner in crime Ms. Pac-Man. As it was rare that I was both in an arcade or store contained this game, and was allowed to play it, Pac-Man held an aura of mystery and intrigue. After my first game, played on one of those little tabletop games sold at Toys R Us, I was completely and hopelessly addicted.

I had a Pac-Man t-shirt. I carried a Pac-Man lunch box. I watched the Pac-Man cartoon. I snuck in games at the local variety store whenever I could with my weekly allowance, constantly battling the ever-present crowds around the machine. We were never allowed a home video game system, after our parents discovered the addicting properties of the Intellivision II. I was like a closet alcoholic, stealing a fix at every possible opportunity.

We even ate the Pac-Man pasta. My sister Diana and her friends used to heat a can up in the morning and put it in their thermoses for school. It would still be hot by lunch time. For some reason, it tasted so much better with the Pac-Man logo on the front of the can. Regular Chef Boyardee pasta ? Yuck. But Pac-Man pasta ? Aw, yeah.

Even to this day, Ms. Pac-Man remains one of my favorite arcade games. Dave & Busters in the South Bay has one. Every time I visit this most excellent establishment, I can be found in the back corner, sitting on a little red stool, chomping away at the power pellets and blue ghosts. Although I thoroughly enjoy the dazzling world of high-tech virtual firefighting, car racing and police shooting, something still draws me back to that enticing red stool.

25 years later, and Pac-Man and his offshoots continue to enjoy a dedicated following from many of us who grew up with them. At yesterday's Bay to Breakers foot race in San Francisco, I did not see any costumes from the newest video game hit Halo 2. However, I did see a most excellent Pac-Man entourage.

[I will post an entry about my amazing experiences at B2B soon. :) ]

In the early 1980s, Pac-Man made its debut, rising from humble beginnings as its creator ate a slice of pizza, and revolutionizing the world of video games, the public's perception, and the mass media in its entirety. Not bad for a hungry little round guy.

Happy birthday, Pac-Man.

Link to article: [CNN Money]


For those of you who, like me, still hold Pac-Man dear to your heart, there is a t-shirt out there that depicts the 256th level of the original game. The program actually breaks down if a player reaches this level, hence the garbled screen. This is one of the coolest shirts I've ever seen. Yes, I do own one. :)

Link: [Errorwear]


Blogger Julie said...

I love Pac Man!!!! I love the tee shirt too. I may have to get that for DH :)

May 17, 2005 at 5:51:00 AM PDT  

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