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Dots, fruit, speed and pills: the Happy Consciousness of Pac-Man

Pages 248-261
Received 02 Mar 2014
Accepted 22 Oct 2014
Published online: 25 Mar 2015
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Spanning 30 years and 40 individual videogames across a range of platforms, Pac-Man is one of the most recognizable of all videogame characters and a pop–culture icon. In spite of its widespread popularity, the game receives little sustained academic engagement or analysis. In an attempt to address this, the paper argues that in its classic iterations Pac-Man generates complex notions of space and time which are indicative of changing cultural, ethical and political considerations in wider society. This is explored through recourse to Borges’ work on labyrinths, Bauman’s discussion of the ethical position of videogames, Poole’s rejoinder and Ritzer’s critique of consumerism, ultimately arguing that the dynamics, themes and leitmotifs evident in Pac-Man are experienced by gamers, consumers and citizens described in Marcuse’s One Dimensional Society, whereby the welfare and warfare state coalesce to generate the Happy Consciousness.


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