ms. pac-man is a whore
by Michele Christopher

Sure, I’m a big fan of the home console. But I come from a time when the only way to play video games was to get a fistful of quarters and head to an arcade or a bar. I wasn’t really big on arcades; too many little kids, too many people pushing for the same machines. But I was real big on bars. A live band, a bunch of shots and people who were willing to run to the bar for me for quarters and more shots.

Really, I hated bars. I’m not a very social person. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like gatherings. I don’t like any social event that involves more than, say, three people and takes place outside my home. I prefer not to leave my house at all. Ever. But back then, my friends would drag me out. Literally. They would come to my house and kind of push me out the door and into the car. They’d hit me up with a drink as soon as I got in the car to loosen me up and maybe by the time we got to whatever hole in the wall we were headed to, I’d be a bit more social.

But once video games started appearing in all these little bars and clubs, everything changed. They no longer had to force me out. I would be at the door waiting for them. Because I knew that once we got to the bar I would fuck them off. While they sat at their table listening to another drunken cover band and arguing about some Lord of the Rings plot point, galaga1.jpg I would head straight for the bar. Three shots. Can I have the change in quarters, please? And then I’d spend the rest of the night in front of the machine, mashing buttons and killing bugs and driving the Rally X car into walls. My friends were happy I got out of the house, and I managed to have a life that existed outside my bedroom. Win win situation. Except for when I played Galaga..

We hit a different place every weekend. There was the sleazy neighborhood bar where I memorized the Pac-Man pattern that I can still follow today. The other local joint where the bartender threatened to turn the sound off of Bezerk because he was sick of hearing “Intruder Alert” all night long. The club where the Doors cover band played and I knocked back kamikaze shots until the placed closed while trying to get that damn Rally X car to drive straight. Each game had its own drink, its own bar. Asteroids and tequila. Centipede was some shot that mixed Amaretto and Southern Comfort and to this day every time I think of Centipede I taste that putrid sweetness in the back of my throat. Because shots like that might be ok going down, but they kind of suck coming up. But every game called for some kind of shot. See, I didn’t really drink. Not in the sipping a drink kind of way. I did shots. You keep a constant buzz that way and I didn’t have to be bothered balancing a drink on the console. Throw back the shot, stick the shot glass in my back pocket. What? I wasn’t going to leave the machine and let someone else take over. When I was ready for another shot and another handful of quarters there was always some guy perfectly willing to be my bar runner.

Yea, I spent a lot of time playing Pac-Man. Come on, who didn't in the 80's? It may seem lame to you now, but that game was the shit back in the day. Do you know how hard it is to chase a god damn apple when you are drunk? Fuck Inky and Clyde and the rest of the damn ghosts. I wanted that fruit. That blessed, elusive fruit. How many times I put myself in the sites of Pac-Man just because I was greedy and had to have that orange or grape or whatever fruity round I was on. Some nights you would find me banging my fists on the screen, yelling, "Damn you, apple! Damn you to hell!" At which point someone would bring me another shot and ask if it was maybe time to just put the quarters down.

And then Ms. Pac-Man came. At first I fell for her wiley ways. She was new, exciting, and she had pretzels, dude. Pretzels! No more chasing around just fruit. There was a pretzel to be had. But see, the Ms. Pac-Man machine was right next to her male counterpart and I would turn and look at Pac-Man every once in a while sitting there all alone while everyone lined up to stroke and caress Ms. Pac-Man and well, I took pity on the poor guy. I gave up the hunt for the pretzel and went back to chasing strawberries and apples. mspacmanwasawhore.jpg Ms. Pac-Man was a whore, anyhow. Come on, like you never thought that before. Look at her, all made up like a hooker at a MaryKay convention. She's probably hot for QBert. And dude. She's naked. She's sitting up on top of the game in that cheescake pin-up pose and she is NAKED. Do you think she is anatomically correct? Well, I guess those Pac-kids had to come from somewhere.


One of my favorite bars had this crappy Led Zeppelin cover band and dollar shots on Friday nights. And they had Galaga. I had a love/hate relationship with that game. I just couldn’t get into a flow with it. I tried switching drinks. Tequila. Some imported beer. 151 rum. I even tried playing sober. You ever listen to a bad Led Zeppelin cover band while sober? It’s painful. So one night my friend decides that if I’m going to beat Galaga, I need to rethink my options. Drinking obviously wasn’t doing it for me. And I wasn’t going to attempt this straight, not when a screeching version of "When The Levee Breaks" was playing in the background. So we went with two tabs of mescaline.

Yea, that was a good idea. I was mesmerized by the colors. The patterns. The tractor beam. That god damn tractor beam. See, when I was drunk and playing, I at least knew to stay away from that. But tripping, it was kind of like....gee, I wonder what it’s like to get sucked into the tractor beam. I bet it would be cool. I wonder if it would make a sound like in Yar’s Revenge. I wonder if they have Fritos in space. I could sure go for some Fritos. Hey, Kevin, can you get me a shot of Jack and some Fritos? Well, I can’t get it myself cause the mothership is here and I’m gonna let myself get sucked into the tractor beam that "Going to California"? I love that song, man. That dude can sing.

And then I was sitting at the table arguing with someone about tractor beams and space vacuums.

And the whole point of this story is that video games made me social.

And that Ms. Pac-Man is whore who is now shacking up with Galaga.

Told ya.

So what’s your deal with coin-op games? Did you have a favorite? Play those table top games (I hated them)?

Go to the extended entry below to take my “guess the arcade game” quiz.

[click for bigger]


i alwas liked donkey dong

or was that a sex toy?

either way i had to put a quarter in it to get it running


Wasn't a big arcade game player, but I did like Joust.


i have ALWAYS said ms pac man was a slut... also, minnie mouse.

and don't get me started on smurfette...


Yeah, Joust was good.
Missile Command too, spin that ball. A couple of years later, Double Dragon. Always loved how you finished it, and got to start all over again.


Joust confused me. Were those things ostriches or turkeys? And who the hell rides either?


About a week ago, we went out to a local pizza place. My son, the energetic toddler that he is, ran straight for the back room. Turns out, they had a pinball machine and a couple of standup games. Galaga. Ohhhhh... My wife got sucked in. She made ME run for quarters. My son "helped", which means that he bashed the buttons while my wife tried to steer out of harm's way.
Then, I found a box in the garage marked "Atari". Uh oh.


Bob, that is like finding buried treasure!


Now I can't stop singing that old Atari jingle.

Have you played Atari today?


I grew up with the next-gen arcade standups. Some great games there (I'm looking at you, TMNTII). Some real crap too. Remember Revolution X, where you had to save the world from the music of Aerosmith or some shit? That game sucked royal balls.


Galaga is still an awesome game. I found a table top one in Austin a year ago and spent like three days drinking Jameson and chasing that elusive ending on Galaga. Tron was another that I absolutely loved. And Spy Hunter? Well, I wasn't very good at it. But I could play it all day. When the first Mortal Kombat came out, holy jeebus. I was a whole new color of pale after I found that thing.


Hah! That game SUCKED.


That is funny because when I was in college there was a divey Irish bar / tavern practially across the street from my dorm that I was a regular at. They had video golf in there and I would play that thing for hours.

The place ruled. All dim and dark and smokey inside, they served 3 only kinds of beer, all on tap. Guinness, Bass and Bud.

There was always some half drunk Irish folk singer in there singing 'Charlie and the MBTA'.

I'd go over there and drink jack and guinness and play video golf practically all night till the bartender kicked everybody out.


golden tee

but that was just a game to break things to

"Stop playing so hard! You're breaking my game!"

trackball games were always about violence


SpyHunter was THE SHIT. Loved that. I'm not sure if I could get the same feeling sitting in my livingroom with that one. Mine was in a bowling alley. Better than a bar. Smokey smell, stale beer and the sound of big heavy things knocking over other big heavy things.


spy hunter, galaga, golden tee... yes yes and yes.

but nothing beats good old indiana jones the pinball adventure


I was the prototypical "arcade kid". Pale, fat and rumpled. (How is that different from now ? Oh yeah, I'm taller....)

I would spend hours in front of the sit down version of Spy Hunter when playing by myself. And Elevator Action. I played that game until my hands bled.

Gauntlet, however, was The Shit. Four players yelling and screaming. "Warrior needs food badly", echoing in my head, long after I'd gone home.

And Street Fighter II and Addams Family Pinball and... Okay, I'll stop now...


Nice michele--yeah, that's it. "Shoot Steven Tyler in the FACE!" Oh, how we used to yell that as loud as we could. Especially when we were playing that game.


Our Spy Hunter was in a skating rink. We had the smokey smell, stale beer, and the Fat Boys. Not quite the same . . .


Gauntlet, however, was The Shit. Four players yelling and screaming. "Warrior needs food badly", echoing in my head, long after I'd gone home.

I used to work in a warehouse where I was the inventory manager. It was in a bad area and the place had two different gangs in there, the bloods and the crips, all working for minimum wage. I got along with all of them, barking orders at them to get the shit done right and they would listen, fights were kept to a minimum. It really was like LA County jail in there where I had to split people up into different parts of the warehouse. They all had their territories.

Really bad scene.

But, one motherfucker would never listen to me. Just was an asshole huge crip.

One day I was out smoking a cigarette when he came out and sat next to me. Of course we didn't talk. This was the guy controlling the crip section of the warehouse and I controlled the whole warehouse, so we had power struggles all the time, but he sat down next to me and we both were smoking. The roach coach came up and played it's "La Cocaracha" song and at the same time we both said "Warrior needs food....badly"

We both looked at each other and laughed. We became friends after that. The hell if I knew a year later he would be sleeping on my sofa......


Two words:

Naked Gauntlet.


Turtle that golf game, I'm a little fuzzy but I believe it was 'Golden Tee' and yes, I do recall getting yelled at a few times by the bartender to take it easy on the game.

I'd lean way back then throw myself forward to get as much spin on that trackball as I could when teeing off a hole. The goal was to get the video game's golf announcer to comment, 'Wow'.


naked gauntlet is awesome

if someone could get my fucking back when the ghosts are nailing me

and no

nipple tweeks are not a distraction. they make someone play better


I do recall getting yelled at a few times by the bartender to take it easy on the game.

oh hell yeah. The palm of your hand nailing the plastic over the screen with someone yelling "You're breaking my game!!!" was funny stuff


"if someone could get my fucking back when the ghosts are nailing me"

If someone would keep his hands on the controller long enough to actually do his job instead of groping his partner, maybe he wouldn't need so much help.


If someone would keep his hands on the controller long enough to actually do his job instead of groping his partner,

well thats what the warrior does.

Grope his partners titties and keep fighting.

It's called multitasking.

/or maybe i was the elf...


According to "The Official Gauntlet Multiplayer Handbook", groping another player is only acceptable if:

A) It's Naked Gauntlet or
B) You're on vacation and already naked or
C) Your SO is playing the elf, which has a faster rate of fire than the warrior. Theoretically, she should be able to cover you while you cop a feel.

It looks legal to me.


I know this is horribly off topic, guys, but did anyone else know today is talk like a pirate day? I first heard about it through ASV, so I figured Michele would dig it.


what's a pirate's favorite beer?

PB arRrrr


finn: MYOB!!

Josh: Look for turtle and I to do a pirate themed post tonight.



Yes, ma'am.


Spy Hunter. Standing, sitting, don't much care. I loved the fact that the Peter Gunn Theme would lull you into a rythum and then you'd get suckered into an out of synch crash.


For pinball: Eight Ball. Classic, not Deluxe, and make damn sure the table's been Pledged this week.


I never realized how much of a whore Ms. Pac-Man was, but yep, you're right, she is most definitely a whore.

And that ghost looks like he's ready to give it to her good. Wow.


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