Pac Manhattan

by Bernie DeKoven on May 11, 2004

Pac Manhattan – the actual website for a real-life, virtually-assisted, play-where-you’re-not-supposed-to, junkly fun event.

Pac-Manhattan is a large-scale urban game that utilizes the New York City grid to recreate the 1980’s video game sensation Pac-Man. This analog version of Pac-man is being developed in NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications graduate program, in order to explore what happens when games are removed from their “little world” of tabletops, televisions and computers and placed in the larger “real world” of street corners, and cities.

A player dressed as Pac-man will run around the Washington square park area of Manhattan while attempting to collect all of the virtual “dots” that run the length of the streets. Four players dressed as the ghosts Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde will attempt to catch Pac-man before all of the dots are collected.

Using cell-phone contact, Wi-Fi internet connections, and custom software designed by the Pac-Manhattan team, Pac-man and the ghosts will be tracked from a central location and their progress will be broadcast over the internet for viewers from around the world.

The real story for me is the sheer, unorthodox fun that was apparently had by the Wi-Fi-ant few. I have no idea how they managed to get so much publicity. I’ve seen stuff about last weekend’s event on just about every blog I travel. I’m not sure if it’s the silliness or the technology that was so attractive. It may be a small step for play, but it’s clearly one big leap for bloggingkind.


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