Is there anybody on this planet who isn’t familiar with that name? Those whose domestic address is the downward-facing end of a rock aside, I’d have to say the answer is “no.” The original game, which came out in 1980, has spawned near countless spin-offs, sequels, and even a TV series. After more than 30 years Pac-Man has become a cultural icon that’s been ported to more game platforms than you can shake a joystick at. Hell, I’m pretty sure you can play it on a potato.
The government, through careful manipulation of the internet and subtle mind control, would have you believe the game was created in 1980 as an alternative to all the shooter-style games of the time. Why, a quick jaunt over to Wikipedia would tell you that the harmless little yellow guy was designed to appeal to both genders at a time when the vast majority of gamers were male. Yes, this strange little game where all your character did was eat while being pursued by ghosts in a maze became one of the most popular video games of all time and actually drew girls into arcades!
Girls! In arcades!
Doesn’t sound so strange today, but coming from someone who was old enough to drink when Pac-Man hit the market, I can tell you from personal experience it was quite the change. This was welcomed with open arms from both sides of the gender aisle, too. For the few ladies who were already gaming back then, they now had an option beyond mindlessly shooting aliens and asteroids, while the ladies who didn’t get the appeal of video games finally got something they could enjoy. The guys with girlfriends in the latter camp no longer had to risk alienating their fair maidens while they saved the universe one quarter at a time. For the rest of us guys, well, we got a chance to see what girls looked like.
That’s the official story and one you were not expected to question unless you wanted to disappear forever. Now, thanks to the
unstoppable force of the internet, the world’s greatest gossip-monger, we can finally bring you the true story behind the creation of Pac-Man. What you are about to see will radically alter what you thought you knew about one of the world’s most famous ghostbusters.
It turns out all this time Pac-Man was actually a top-secret research project. I guess the game was just a clever way to throw off the overly curious. I’m sure all those quarters probably went towards funding what was obviously a costly project. Pretty brilliant when you think about it.
So instead of the name “Pac-Man” name coming from the Japanese slang phrase to eat “paku-paku” it turns out it’s really a clever acronym. Who doesn’t love an acronym? Certainly not the government. I’m pretty sure they have acronyms for multiple acronyms. Seriously. But I digress…for now. The super secret project is called the Polymorphic Autonomous Compound MANipulator or PAC-MAN.
While that may sound sinister, his purpose is apparently benign. Pac-Man is “programmed to seek out, catch, and consume any hazardous target at the push of a button.” Examples given are oil spills and reactor leaks, but he prefers cherries.
Pac-Man himself is purposefully rendered in a somewhat pixellated fashion, but the CGI for the mazes in the short are reminiscent of scenes from Tron. The creators did an excellent job of showing how something like Pac-Man could exist in the real world.
PAC-MAN The Movie (The Fan Film) is the brainchild of James Farr, Creative Development Director for Steelhouse Productions, a creative media company located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the people responsible for bringing James’ idea to life. There is an entire webpage devoted to the movie called Project Yellow Sphere where you can not only watch the movie, but also read up on how and why “The greatest 80s movie never made” was (sort of) made. Like everything else in this big-old world, there’s a Facebook page for Project Yellow Sphere where you can interact with the makers of the film and other fans.
Before you leave (assuming you haven’t already), I’ve got a behind-the-scenes video for you to enjoy. Best part? You don’t need to insert a quarter to play, unless you’re into that sort of thing. Just don’t tell anyone, okay?
Credit where credit is due: