The “Game” Standard


This week’s blog I decided to dive into the classic game of Pacman.  When people think of classic video games they often think of Mario, Pong, and Pacman. So why play a game I have known and loved for years.

To play the game I downloaded the original version on my laptop and started my journey. Immediately I was hit with the classic Pacman music. Right afterwards I hear Pacman eating those little yellow balls the “wacka wacka wacka” playing over and over again. The game is simple enough. All you have to do is eat all the white balls before the ghost catch you and kill you. With the only controls being the arrow keys, the game mechanics are none too difficult. Then you start playing and realize that the ghosts are not so random.

pac-man_ghostsClyde (orange)  Inky (blue) Pinky (pink) Blinky (red)

After playing for a while I noticed that the ghost had patterns. Blinky follows behind Pacman. Pinky makes an effort to position himself in front of Pacman. Inky and Clyde are the x factors because they sometimes chase, cutoff, or just wander off in a different part of the map. Learning the patterns proves vital to mastering the game.

Overall Pacman is a fun game. To put it in simple terms I enjoy playing the game. It is a source of enjoyment. The thrill of running  away from the ghost and trying to get every ball is exciting. Trying achieve a higher score than my peers is what kept me going. However, as fun as the game is I soon realized it is not one I could play for long periods of time. Even grinding out 30 minutes seemed to drag on. That did not take away from the experience. I soon found out that there was a challenge in Pacman to achieve the “Perfect Game.” It is where you eat every ghost possible when you eat the big white ball and every fruit without dying. Do this for 256 levels and you can achieve the maximum score of 3,333,360! I attempted this but soon found out it is no easy feat, so let’s just say I was nowhere near that.

Here is a short clip of the first man who achieved this astonishing feat. In the Classic game realm Billy Mitchell is a legend!

After hours of play though I started to think to myself, “Is Pacman a game?” And of course it is! It is a classic game that everyone knows about, but also follows the rules in order to be classified as a game. I went with Jesper Juul’s definition of a game and Pacman checks all the boxes. Rule based system with variables and outcomes assigned different values? Yes, eat the balls and avoid the ghost in order to move on or lose. Each ghosts have different values and the player’s efforts influence how the ghosts move. The player feels attached to his score and wants to wants it to be as high as possible. The outcome is completely influenced by the player until the reach the “end” of Pacman.

With Ludology we can see how a game released in 1980 is still being played in 2017. Pacman has developed a following that has lasted throughout the years. From a simple arcade game that caused “Pacman Fever” in the 80’s to creating an eSports scene in the 2000’s. Pacman is a “game” that my 5 year old cousin can play for fun, and I could play looking for a “Perfect Score.”


6 thoughts on “The “Game” Standard

  1. I never knew the ghosts had actual names. That’s pretty cool. I also didn’t know Pac-Man was a part of eSports. I think Pac-Man is something that falls under nearly everyone’s definition of a game. We can see there’s a goal and there are rules in the game.


  2. Be careful of your use of “ludology.” It’s really saying that we need to understand PacMan through the idea of play, not the story. This is basically saying that the ghosts and yellow eater (as story/narrative elements) don’t matter. All that matters are the rules and how the player intersects with those rules to achieve her/his goal.


  3. I agree with other comments, i didn’t even know that each ghost had its own name thats pretty interesting. I also played this game, though in week 1, and never really observed that each individual ghost followed a role in the game as you stated. Pretty cool to know. I agree to your reference to Juul on how it should be considered a game as it meets all the criteria. Also found it kind of interested that there is that “perfect game” high score and the video shows that this game can be really serious to some people.


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