Pac-Man Principle, The

Pac-Man Principle, The

A User's Guide to Capitalism

A blast from the past; direction to the future? Pac-Man is our guide through the maze of contemporary capitalism.


CATEGORIZED IN

In spite of being well into middle-age, Pac-Man's popularity shows no sign of decline and the character has appeared in over sixty games on virtually every games platform ever released. According to the David Brown celebrity index, in 2008, nearly three decades after initial release, 94% of Americans were able to recognise Pac-Man, which gave the character greater brand awareness than Super Mario. Pac-Man, with its avowed commitment to non-violence was a videogame of many firsts, including being designed to appeal to children and females and providing the first narrative interlude in a videogame. Although iconic, Pac-Man has not been subject to sustained critical analysis. This book helps to fill that gap, providing an extensive, sophisticated, but accessible analysis of the influence of Pac-Man on the way that we live in contemporary western societies.

REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

Wade expertly pulls apart one of video gaming's most iconic titles to discover layer upon layer of meaning, drawing comparisons between Namco's globally-recognised pill-gobbler and the often shadowy worlds of capitalism, politics and much more besides, making it abundantly clear that there's much more to these pixellated classics of yesteryear than meets the eye. ~ Damien McFerran, Editor, Nintendo Life & Videogame and Tech Journalist

Alex Wade has written a rattling good book, as ravenous and riveting as his main character, Pac-Man, whose adventures take us from the frictionless glide through the shopping centre to the dank corners of the postmodern neo-liberal world and our many forms of resistance against it, whether in a Balkan minefield or a cannabis factory. On the way Alex Wade weaves a tantalizing guide through the labyrinths of contemporary capitalism. Read it and be shocked into seeing both the real and the hyperreal in unexpected ways. Better still, read it twice; it’s short and lively. Like playing Pac-Man, it’s addictive. ~ Dennis Smith, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Loughborough University

Pac-Man can be regarded as the convenient poster child of video game culture. It came from a desire to explore non-violence in game design when the popularity of space shooters was reaching its apex, and years before Mike Edwards’ Realms of Impossibilities or Richard Garriott’s Ultima IV adopted a similar design motto. It was built around the universally desirable theme of eating and is still lauded as an attempt to attract a wider demographic, including women. That story has already been told. Alex Wade doesn’t simply revisit this landmark moment in game history. Moving away from a cute-ified glorification of an important figure, his account explores the darker half of this poster child. It dives into the open mouth to explore the underbelly of the yellow munching beast: capitalism. From the smooth consumption occurring in its labyrinths to the constant surveillance of algorithms lurking beneath the googly eyes of ghosts, and the sad inevitability of terror attacks – or a kill screen – in these homogenised worlds made for a consumer-tourist always on the move, Pac-Man resonates with the current neoliberal condition. In a constantly accelerated conflict, power pellets provide some welfare and a momentary reversal of fortune. This powerful formula has grown into one of the most essential forms of reinforcement, forging our consumption of video games, our technological and even social habitus. Pac-Man as a symbol of the world? Wade allows us to connect the dots. ~ Carl Therrien, Adjunct Professor, University of Montreal

Alex Wade’s The Pac-Man Principle offers a suitably wide-ranging account of one of the most influential videogames of all time. The simplicity and elegance of design in Iwatani’s masterpiece proves immensely productive in a critique that addresses a range of contemporary issues, from the welfare state to consumer culture, from drones to political referenda. ~ Paul Martin, Assistant Professor in Digital Media and Communications, , University of Nottingham Ningbo, China

ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
Alex Wade
Alex Wade Alex Wade is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Education at Birmingham City University, UK. He has published widely on French social...
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher

Capitalist Realism

Mark Fisher

An analysis of the ways in which capitalism has presented itself as the only realistic political-economic system.

Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle

Kill All Normies

Angela Nagle

How internet subcultures are conquering the mainstream, from from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the alt-right.

Ghosts of My Life by Mark Fisher

Ghosts of My Life

Mark Fisher

Collected essays on popular culture by a major critic.

Meat Market by Laurie Penny

Meat Market

Laurie Penny

A feminist dissection of women's bodies as the fleshy fulcrum of capitalist cannibalism, whereby women are both consumers and consumed.

One Dimensional Woman by Nina Power

One Dimensional Woman

Nina Power

Exposes the dark heart of contemporary cultural life by examining pornography, consumer capitalism and the ideology of women's work.

Fear of Music by David Stubbs

Fear of Music

David Stubbs

An examination of why modern art can be easier to appreciate than modern music.

Dead Man Working by Carl Cederstrom, Peter Fleming

Dead Man Working

Carl Cederstrom
Peter Fleming

An analysis of the dead man working and the way in which capital is now colonizing life itself.

Non-Stop Inertia by Ivor Southwood

Non-Stop Inertia

Ivor Southwood

A theoretical investigation into the culture of precarious work, digital consumption and personal flexibility, calling for a counter-discourse of resistance.

Awkwardness by Adam Kotsko

Awkwardness

Adam Kotsko

Argues that the awkwardness of our age is a key to understanding human experience.

Babbling Corpse by Grafton Tanner

Babbling Corpse

Grafton Tanner

In the age of global capitalism, vaporwave celebrates and undermines the electronic ghosts haunting the nostalgia industry.