The Prison-maze of Pac-man

The Prison-maze of Pac-man


The hero is a circular creature living in a two dimensional maze world who is compelled to consume white dots in his path. He is led by the goal of consuming all of the dots in the maze, evading the ghost sentinels and point accumulation for the player. Ghost sentinels patrol in predictable patterns and attack on sight. Pac-man can only defend himself if he consumes a special “magic” dot at which point sentinels flee and can be destroyed. When destroyed they are quickly replaced. Once the level is complete, a new identical but slightly faster level must then be completed.

Culture: Individualistic. Even in two-player versions, players compete inconclusively against each other for higher number of points.

Task Orientation: Passive. The player decides on Pac-man’s strategy, but most of the activity is in reaction to the game variables. The hero is bound to his fate and can do little to improve his situation.

Type of Learning: Very little is learned from the experience of playing the game. The knowledge acquired in the game lies mostly in memorizing the sentinel’s patterns. There is no variation to the patterns from level to level besides the opponents speed. Behaviour is affected by reacting to set of patterns by the opponent. Through observation, trial and error and series of  simple decisions (up, down, left, right) the player traces and optimum path in response to a simple model.

Doctrine: Conformist. In order to be successful, the player needs to take on a protocol that values constant consumption without consequence or purpose beyond increased point accumulation. Success also relies on reacting to a system that does not evolve. Neither the player nor the opponent adapt their strategy. The motive degenerates to attrition and endurance more and more in favour of the opponent, until the conditions are unreasonable. Ultimately the player can never defeat the opponent nor accomplish the task to any result.


Culture: Individualistic, Competitive
Task Orientation: Passive, Reactive
Type of Learning:

Cognitive: Memorization, Low-level Application

Affective: Behaviour

Psychomotor: Perception, Mindset, Guided Response

Doctrine: Conformist, Despotic

Link to online flash version of the game:

Link to further reading: /.=20

Here is an interesting twist. Pac-man in zero-gravity presents the same prison conditions as the classic. In this case, there is the added educational element of gravitational familliarity that exists in Donkey Kong. It also virtually eliminates the players ability to identify sentinel attack patterns. The game is slightly more compelling, but far too frustrating to commit to. Thanks Christian for the link.


~ by Aminhotep Presents on March 16, 2009.

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