The “Fun” experience Playing Pac-Man

There is the old saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”, so for the first game I decided to play Pac-Man, a game I have played several times. It has been for some time that I have not played as the old yellow fellow and wondered whether I was still the master of this old game. In the first-round I felt like an old rookie basketball player, I knew what to do and how to maneuver, but the little critters somehow cornered me. Unfortunately, I died when I got to the second round, I had wasted my three lives in the first, however that did not stop me and started the game again. The old familiar feeling of being rushed felt good, it gave me the impulse to survive and avoid the colorful creatures. In order to avoid a boring description on the first day let’s just say I got better and boy was it fun to play again. The impulse of getting better is what I believe made it fun, I’m very competitive when it comes to games whether it be physical or mental and I often push myself to win. This need to compete even against myself is what perhaps gives this game a sense of “fun”.

After playing Pac-man several times and breaking my previous “record” several times I began to feel a lack of playing the game. By day four I could say that I lost interest in playing Pac-man and the sense of “fun” was lost. Since I had reached level five with different high scores the previous day, my performance plateaued and instead of having fun it felt like work. After playing for three hours I saw no purpose to play the old arcade game and simply stopped. This is due to the fact that the game simply became too repetitive and the objective simple, while there were some changes such as getting different fruits for extra points it was basically the same thing over and over. At this point I agree with Raph Koster’s idea that “When a game stops teaching us, we feel bored”, Pac-man certainly stopped teaching me something (Koster, 42). While I do have to say that Pac-man serves as a good pass time game when there is nothing to do, playing it repeatedly certainly kills the fun out of the game. Therefore, just like Koster states “Games grow boring when they fail to unfold new niceties in the puzzles they present” (Koster, 42). If I played against a friend or relative as a form of competition in who gets the top score, then perhaps there would be a stimulus to play Pac-man again, but since the competition is against myself and no other the purpose of playing the game will simply die out. This does not mean that I do not like Pac-man, I play it from time to time and only when I absolutely do not have any other game to play. Pac-man maybe a classic, but sometimes classics eventually become boring until there is a need to play it again. Just like Koster describes music “When you feel a piece of music is repetitive or derivative, it grows boring because it presents no cognitive challenge” (Koster, 42). Perhaps by not playing Pac-man for a while will the game be fun once more.


Koster, Raph. Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, US: Paraglyph Press, 2004. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 31 January 2017.


7 thoughts on “The “Fun” experience Playing Pac-Man

  1. I completely agree with you! I had fun playing Pacman the first few days! Breaking my own record was great but after a few days the game just dragged on. Overall the game is fun but in moderation for me. I am glad someone had the same experience as me.


  2. Really good take on it. Great clarity. I want to poke at one term though: plateau. You say your “performance plateaued” and at that point it began to get boring. Think about that metaphor of going uphill vs. actually walking uphill vs. downhill vs. on a flat plateau. Where else might it intersect with games in a different manner and why might your take be different?


  3. I enjoyed your blog because I can relate to it and I really liked how you incorporated the readings and elaborated on them. Great read!


  4. Your blog is very relatable. I also lost all my lives on the first level when I first played it. The Koster quote you used perfectly described how dull the game can get after playing it for a long time.


  5. I also played Pac Man but I did not lose interest. If you did not have to fulfill the requirements of how long you had to play for the assignment, would you have even thought to add that over long periods you become bored? Or would you have played in short time periods and called it fun? For a game to be fun, do you have to be able to consistently play for long periods?


  6. I understand how you feel about the game getting boring after a while. I was initially excited to play space invaders and as I slowly started to get feel of how the game goes I slowly lost interest as well but to make sure that I maintained focus for the whole two weeks I used tactics on playing the game (for ex: playing without sound or with only one hand). Looking at all these blogs that seem to discourage Pac-man as “fun” make me question why is in the MoMA? It makes me think that as a video game it doesn’t progress much and sparks little fun within the player and as art it doesn’t have a deeper meaning behind it.


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