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Pac-Man, heading towards thirty

Pac-Man, heading towards thirty

Will humanity ever get rid of Pac-Man? It could have been a fad, but at a distance of 28 years since its first appearance the yellow dot remains on the crest of the wave. Wired also celebrates it, on the anniversary of the launch of what is undoubtedly one of the most loved, imitated and sequel games in history.

Puck-man was born in Japan on October 10, 1979 , making its appearance on bar consoles. A 3 MHz Z80, with a resolution of 224 × 288 pixels, was enough to send gamers accustomed to Space Invaders and the like into orbit. At home the welcome was not particularly warm: but then Puck-man crossed the ocean, became Pac-Man (to avoid dangerous linguistic assonances) and it was the beginning of his luck.

In short, the ghost-eating cue landed on almost any platform, becoming a real phenomenon of costume . Board games, music discs, pinball machines, T-shirts, even toilets: Pac-Man was everywhere, and his fame continues today, like a tradition that passes from father to son. Yes, because, if the first players tried it on the Atari 2600 or on a traditional bar body, today the youngest players have rediscovered Pac-Man on their mobile or Xbox. Or on their iPod, complete with a custom cover for Apple’s music-player.

What is so exciting about Pac-Man, no one has ever understood: a labyrinth, a yellow dot, a few pills, four ghosts. The aim is to escape from them and eat all the pills, except to eat even the ghosts when the situation allows. Nevertheless there are people who have had the labyrinth tattooed on them (see photo on the side), there are those in Pac-Man who play it live thanks to virtual reality, and those who use it for scientific experiments. There is even the world championship.

In a way, Pac-Man is also a bit of proof that video games aren’t dangerous and don’t hurt. Sure it won’t be as brutal as Manhunt, but as someone once said: “If Pac-Man had conditioned us as kids, today we’d be running around in dark rooms, eating pills and listening to repetitive music.” What is certain is that, even today, with Pac-Man it is love at the first bite.

Luca Annunziata