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Pac-Man: How We Played the Game (retrobitch.wordpress.com)
115 points by severine 46 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

> The only reason why people “restore” vintage arcade games is usually to command higher prices on a market that typically sells to novice collectors. The practice has little to do with preservation and much more to do with profiting off the naive.

That is so profoundly untrue. You never get back the money you've spent in renovation AND the real purpose is passion, to bring back that sense of NEW to something retro, and having it play like it came out of factory.

The quote is about "restoring" by putting cheap-looking stickers instead of properly restoring the original paintwork.

Exactly. I restore cabinets. From fixing electronics to fully stripping and repainting rusty cabinets. Just finished a sega rally 2. And I'd be happy if I got the price of the parts out of it. Shouldn't even think about getting money for the hours spend.

Article is about material deformation. It’s charming, and I’d encourage people to read it.

Now days the equivalent might be a really shiny controller, or letters worn of of a keyboard.

Even worn paths through the grass at university/corporate campuses can show better ideas for sidewalk layout.

Illinois institute of technology's main building (mtcc) was designed based on that: they tracked people as they crossed over the large lawn (park?) to get to classses and such, and then built the building so as to preserve those paths

There is a Ms. PacMan game in the gym of our office building I play between sets. You really do need a grip, and at least for my play style, I'm jamming the controller the direction I want to turn while I travel down the wall prior to making the turn. To make a fast, precise turn, you do really need some force, and its fun to think how different a control interface this is from our modern day consoles and PC!

Props to this Mark Montag guy pulling a powerstance.


>Original unrestored Pac-Man cabinets almost always show this kind of wear-pattern caused by the thousands, oftentimes millions, of left-hands that once gripped it during gameplay.

I don't believe this ever happened. Let's make the conservative assumption that a cabinet was in continuous operation 8 hours a day, and each game lasted 2 minutes. That's only 240 games a day, which means it would take nearly 23 years of such extremely heavy use to reach 2 million games (the lowest number to qualify as millions plural). The Pac-Man craze did not last 23 years, and such heavy use is only plausible at the peak of the craze.

It's a trivial point, but you are right that it wouldn't be millions. The cabinet wear was caused by thousands of hands.

Feel like I have watched Bandersnatch too much, but reading this made me think about:....

You know what Pac stands for? PAC. Program and Control. He’s Program and Control Man. The whole thing’s a metaphor. All he can do is consume. He’s pursued by demons that are probably just in his own head. And even if he does manage to escape by slipping out one side of the maze, what happens? He comes right back in the other side. People think it’s a happy game. It’s not a happy game. It’s a fucking nightmare world. And the worst thing is? It’s real and we live in it.

Who else was reminded of that pinball essay in Foucault's Pendulum in Chapter 34 in relation to Lorenza Pellegrini?

   You don’t play pinball with just your hands, you play it with the
   groin too. The pinball problem is not to stop the ball before it’s
   swallowed by the mouth at the bottom, or to kick it back to
   midfield like a halfback. The problem is to make it stay up where
   the lighted targets are more numerous and have it bounce from one
   to another, wandering, confused, delirious, but still a free agent.
   And you achieve this not by jolting the ball but by transmitting
   vibrations to the case, the frame, but gently, so the machine won’t
   catch on and say Tilt. You can only do it with the groin, or with a
   play of the hips that makes the groin not so much bump, as slither,
   keeping you on this side of an orgasm. And if the hips move
   according to nature, it’s the buttocks that supply the forward
   thrust, but gracefully, so that when the thrust reaches the pelvic
   area, it is softened, as in homeopathy, where the more you shake a
   solution and the more the drug dissolves in the water added
   gradually, until the drug has almost entirely disappeared, the more
   medically effective and potent it is. Thus from the groin an
   infinitesimal pulse is transmitted to the case, and the machine
   obeys, the ball moves against nature, against inertia, against
   gravity, against the laws of dynamics, and against the cleverness
   of its constructor, who wanted it disobedient. The ball is
   intoxicated with vis movendi, remaining in play for memorable and
   immemorial lengths of time. But a female groin is required, one
   that interposes no spongy body between the ileum and the machine,
   and there must be no erectile matter in between, only skin, nerves,
   padded bone sheathed in a pair of jeans, and a sublimated erotic
   fury, a sly frigidity, a disinterested adaptability to the
   partner’s response, a taste for arousing desire without suffering
   the excess of one’s own: the Amazon must drive the pinball crazy
   and savor the thought that she will then abandon it.
I enjoy me some retro gaming, and I've noticed sometimes I also grip cabinets or controllers in odd ways. I notice it because sometimes my hands are sore.

Also, I wonder if I should go re-read that book. I think I have better faded memories of it than my actual enjoyment at the time when I read it. It seemed dense and I don't think I understood much of anything. But everyone remembers this passage I quoted above.

I remember thinking that the book was dense too, and this passage definitely stands out in my memory.

You know, I’ve spent my life loving Pac-Man in the arcade but merely liking the myriad home versions I’ve purchased over the decades. Thank you so much for finally explaining why.

This is a good bit for ergonomics to figure out how to better improve the arcade experience in cabinet design.

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