Dots, Fruit, Speed and Pills: The Happy Consciousness of Pac-Man

Wade Alex
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

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.


The State of the Art: Western Modes of Videogame Production

Wade Alex
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

This paper intends to offer some preliminary insights into the milieu that produce the world of videogame play. Beginning with an historical overview of the industry from it’s inception as a major entertainment medium, I will examine the means by which production of videogames has been set-up and sustained and it’s subsequent successes and failures. From here, I will map these instances onto culturally relevant theoretical models. By using empirical data from interviews with developers, programmers, artists and producers throughout the West, I will investigate the current state of the art in the industry and analyse the relationships, differences and similarities that contemporary videogame production has with its antecedents. Finally, I will offer some thoughts on the future of videogame production and the increasing opportunities of expansion it offers to sociological exploration of situated – and displaced – play.