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) References 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.