Pac Man capitalism: the games we play

People aren’t generally aware that the games they play have an effect on their behavior. Or maybe it is that the games we make are a representation of our beliefs. Either way there are some interesting parallels of society in the early 80’s hit video game PacMan.


In pac man the rules are quite simple:

Consume all the dots and be rewarded for every dot consumed, there is no limit to consumption.

Avoid the ghosts who persue you and seek to destroy you, until you consume one of the few the special dots whit make the ghosts temporarily your prey, if you can catch them.

Alternatively after consuming one of  the special dots, use the time to consume more dots unconstrained by the ghosts presence.

In a way that has been the general business model of the neo-con agenda through out the 80’s and beyond.

Your corporation is the Pac Man, the dots are the earths resources, money, people and environment. The ghosts are the regulators and the general push back from society.

The special dots are special moments when you are unstoppable in your path of unrelenting hunger and you may temporarily destroy or ignore you critics.

So the game was to consume continuously, avoid the regulator, occasionally destroy (or consume) the regulator and then continue your corporations unending consumption.

Curiously the game has a serious bug which some of the best players found. The game crashes at level 256 because in in this apparently unlimited fantasy land of infinite consumption, there is a physical limit which is reached (in the computer software) and the game is no longer playable. An interesting analogy for the enormous Ponzi we are all playing right now. A subtle flaw in the program renders the game unplayable at a certain point.



It’s all an interesting co-incidence?

Consider this quote on a T shirt:


Rumor has it this quote was originally from a Japanese video game company executive.

Have you been living in Pac Man capitalism?

Are you getting close to level 256?

Make up your own mind.

Posted on May 11, 2013, in Corporations, Kapitalism, Psychology. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. “…The ghosts are the regulators and the general push back from society….”

    Regulators (government) shield corporations from losses and from market forces in general using violence (laws, regulations etc). How does that equate to the ghosts?

    The temporary state in pacman where you are immune from the ghosts (from market forces, from losses, from competition etc) would be a better analogy for corporations – except in real life corporations are in a *permanent* state of immunity from the ghosts which is why they relentlessly munch everything in sight with no regard for anything but their own short term profits.

    Pac man would mirror reality if when pacman (the corporation) died the arcade machine stole points and lives from other gamers in the arcade and gave them to you so you could carry on (ie bailouts).

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