One Dot at a Time
by Michele Christopher

Today's guest author is WJD, who may be the only person on the planet who reads more into video games than Michele.

What's the point of Pac-Man? Are there life-lessons in Pac-Man? I think there are.

Reduced to biological terms, the point of life is to stay alive long enough to procreate. Since Pac-Man don't fuck (at least, you don't get to make Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man make a Pac-Baby, not for your 25 cents anyway), your mission in life while playing Pac-Man is to stay alive long enough to collect enough points to get on the High Score board. How do you do this?

You score points by eating dots. You show up, you go new places, you get points. 10 points for a regular dot, 50 points for a power pellet. Show up, go new places, eat new things, get more points. Easy.

You can also get points by eating the fruit and eating the ghosts but I think these two last methods of points-scoring are fraught with risk that outweighs their perceived benefits. I recognize, that at some point you have to take risks just to stay alive but you got to be smart about it. But hear me out here... I'm going to argue that taking the fast-road to lots of points is a bad idea, especially when dealing with the fruit but also when chasing the ghosts.

First, eating the fruit. What do you get when you eat the fruit? At first, it's like 100 points. 10 dots. Big deal. It moves up a bit, sure. 300 points. 30 dots. 500 points. 50 dots. Nothing to sniff at, 50 dots. But, look, it's a long, long time before eating the fruit pays off as a risk/reward endeavor. You have to wait to go after the fruit. You chase the
fruit too much and too early… you can get burned. The fruit is there, tempting, sweet, juicy… waiting to be plucked and eaten. But it doesn't move for you. It WAITS for you. And… while it waits for you, you are being hunted. Is that a good thing? No! Please, do not chase the fruit. pacmanfever.jpgEat the dots. The dots will get you to the next level. The fruit will get you killed. I mean, who doesn't like fruit? Everyone likes fruit. But that's the problem!! You start chasing fruit, you lose your focus. Bottom line: if you happen to be in the neighborhood, by all means, count your blessings, eat the fruit, and move on. But seriously, don't chase the fruit.

Second, eating the ghosts. This is important, because there are a few levels on which you can argue this one. The ghosts in Pac-Man are the only things that can kill you. But then the only times they can't kill you are the times when you eat the power-pellets. What's that mean? A couple of things…

1) the ghosts are incapacitated and that is prime dot-eating time. Freedom to roam, freedom to eat, freedom to help you get to the next level. Zero risk, all reward.


2) since the ghosts are incapacitated, YOU can eat THEM for a change. Talk about turning the Establishment on its head! Talk about subverting the dominant paradigm! Once you eat the power-pellets, you are thinking that it's time for some R-E-V-E-N-G-E!! You are wrong.

Do not fall in to the trap. And it is a trap. You go chasing those incapacitated ghosts and you fall into the same trap as chasing the fruit. All of a sudden you've got a few of the seven deadly sins lined up against you. And they're not called "deadly" for nothing. Yeah yeah yeah, you get points for eating ghosts, but I'm telling you it's a trick. You get GREEDY. You seek VENGANCE. (Not to mention you LUST after the incapacitated ghosts…and do you really want to be seen as having lust for something that is incapacitated? Isn't that the least bit sick?). All of a sudden you're 3/7 on the SDS meter. That is not good, my Pac-Friend. You need to be pure of Pac-Mind and Heart. You need to eat those dots. You need to stay alive for the long haul.

The easiest way of staying alive and therefore the surest way of getting points is to remember: don't chase the fruit, take advantage of your enemy-the-ghosts' weaknesses. Avoid seeking revenge (although I think, like the fruit, eat 'em if you got 'em). Stay alive for the long-haul, end up on the High Score board. Simple.

WJD's living room houses six MAME cabinets, a cat named Joystick and two volumes of Ms. Pac-Man porn.

Guest author archives


You know what? I changed my find. Screw not chasing the fruit and kill those ghosts before they kill you. You get one chance (well, really, you three chances PER QUARTER plus another one if you hit 10,000 yadda yadda yadda), you might as well take as much advantage in your short Pac-Time as you can. So... do what you want, I don't care. It's not like there's a time limit on each board anyway. Chase the fruit. Seek revenge on your enemies the ghosts. Go around in circles if you want, Christ I don't care. Have fun.


i'm into revenge

kill those bastard ghosts when they are at their weakest


I'm all about the gobbling of the fruit. I can't help it. I set goals for myself to finish the board and get to the next level and do it quick as possible, but that fruit comes out and, well, I wrote about this previously:

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.


eXTReMe Tracker