Having Fun With Pac-Man

Wakka! Wakka! Wakka! Pac Man is that iconic yellow character who races around the screen collecting pellets while trying to avoid the ghosts (Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde*). Pac Man was a video game developed by Namco in the early 1980 and it became essential to arcades everywhere. Now, years after its initial release, Pac Man has become a classic with its modern versions, a television show, and the famous character has even earned a place in the MoMA. Pac Man has become one of the most recognizable video game character and the game has brought joy to its players for years (Silverstein). With the different levels, challenges, puzzles, and the iconic aesthetics, the video game Pac Man is fun.

What is it about Pac Man that makes it fun?

Raph Koster, an American game designer and the author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design, believes that “fun is defined as “a source of enjoyment”… via physical stimuli, aesthetic appreciation, or direct chemical manipulation” (40). For me, playing Pac Man gives a sense of nostalgia and whether I am playing some version on my phone or the google doodle version I can always picture an arcade, with the stand up machines of classic video games. Koster also brings up the idea that, “fun from games arises out of mastery… It is the act of solving puzzles that makes games fun” (40). While playing Pac Man, I found myself becoming increasingly invested in making through the levels and gain the highest score I could. In each of the levels there were themes and patterns, which I was determined to discover and accomplish. I came to understand what Koster meant when he said, “with games, learning is the drug” (40). Making it through the games was a little bit addictive, which made the game fun. The aesthetics of the game, the sound effects, visuals, and design keeps the player invested and entertained with the game.  The sound effects of Pac Man eating the pellets gives a sense of accomplishment. When Pac Man eats the power-pellets (and the ghosts flash) there is a moment of ease for the player to get Pac Man about the maze. Another aspect of the game, that adds a sense of urgency, is when the ghosts get closer to Pac Man and the background noises begin to speed up. All the aesthetics of the game contribute to the overall sense that comes with playing the game.

Pac Man is iconic and the most recognizable video game character in the United States (Silverstein). The nostalgia and sense of joy that comes with playing the classic video game could only be described as fun. Pac Man may have been released in 1980 but it continues to be a quintessential video game that maintains the players interest and provides entertainment to so many.

*Also known as Fickle, Chaser, Ambusher, and Stupid (respectively)

Koster, Raph. 2004. Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, US: 
	Paraglyph Press. 
Silverstein, Johnathan. 2011. "Pac-Man: 10 Things You Didn't Know".
	ABC News.

7 thoughts on “Having Fun With Pac-Man

  1. It’s surprising how many people still actually play pac-man even though it is older than almost if not everybody in class. I do think games can be addictive to the point where we get absorbed into them and have it be fun. I never thought much about the sounds while playing pac-man because I was too busy playing the game to think about sounds. Often these days, I actually play games without sound. I’m probably weird for doing that


    • alexthehuynh, I play a lot of games on my phone with no sound on as well. I do not think you are weird for doing it, but I have noticed that you can actually miss out on what the game designers were purposely doing with their music/sound effects choices. For example, the music in Pac-Man in my opinion was used to increase the players anxiety level. With an increased anxiety level the game can seem harder than maybe it truly is. I played Pac-Man with both volume and no volume and it was just not the same without the intensifying music.


    • I find it interesting (not weird) how many people seem to play games without the sound. When you play games, do you not have any sound or do you listen to music or something?… I agree with dustynunes37 that the sound in Pac Man adds a sense of urgency since there was no time limit to do so.


  2. I agree with you that Pacman is fun and I enjoyed it. However, it was not addicting to me after beating a few levels the game seems to drag on. Everything essentially remains the same and I found myself not being able to play for long periods of time. But it is true Pacman is iconic, it is 2017 and it is still being played and re released on different platforms.


    • I think “addicting” was the wrong word to use; I’ve received several comments on that word choice. I should have said that the game kept me invested. I also see what you mean by the consistency in the game, but for me that was what I like about the game. All the levels are essentially the same but I still felt challenged.


  3. Interestingly you seem to indicate that the “different levels, challenges, puzzles, and the iconic aesthetics” make the game fun, but then you point toward nostalgia and addiction as things related to fun.This is rather a broad spectrum. Lots of things seem to make Pac Man fun for you. If that is indeed your take, then you should be up front about it, as it is not exactly what Koster takes to be fun (the learning). Nostalgia has nothing to do with learning, right? Work a bit more on crafting what you’re saying before you say it, or rather, edit what you write so that it says exactly what you want to say. A good first post though.


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