When Pac-Man bites the power pellet located in one of the corners of his maze the ghosts that have previously been chasing him turn dark blue and become vulnerable to attack. They then scatter and each focuses on a point near one of the four corners, but outside the grid, and thus locks themselves in a frantic holding pattern. (http://gameinternals.com/post/2072558330/understanding-pac-man-ghost-behavior)

This is how I felt throughout this whole project, one minute I was hot on the trail of the data I felt I needed, then the next I was sent off on a wild goose chase that may or may not have eventually bore fruit. While my initial plan of attack was to conduct research on arcades in New York City, I quickly found out that there was little to no information on these venues that was easily accessible. After this I tried briefly to go down the route of oral history, but after a couple of false-starts with interviews and a deadline swiftly approaching the answer came to me from above…my head. At the intersection of 42nd Street and 8th Avenue there is a giant billboard featuring Pac-Man in a prominent role, and between that and finding a Pac-Man machine in every arcade I had visited I realized who the real subject of my inquiry needed to be.

Once I was focused on Pac-Man my research shifted to finding locatable “instances” of Pac-Man in Manhattan and sticking them unto my URT map. Then I began to consider what Pac-Man means in an urban environment, and through the classic text “Walking in the City” by Michel de Certeau I found a role for Pac-Man as the urban pedestrian. Then comparing Pac-Man’s world to our own I looked at the source code for Pac-Man was well as two invaluable web sites, the Pac-Man Dossier (http://home.comcast.net/~jpittman2/pacman/pacmandossier.html) and Chad Birch’s comments on the ghost behavior in the game (http://gameinternals.com/post/2072558330/understanding-pac-man-ghost-behavior). I also found the work of Adriana de Souza e Silva on hybrid reality gaming and was able to justify this look at Pac-Man as an abstraction of all of our behavior as urban dwellers.

Through tying together my data and sources my project ultimately looks at what we can learn about our physical spaces by looking at them through the lens of game design and function. I was even able to tie in my project with Ariana’s research on delivery guys by pitching a hybrid reality game/delivery tool which would cast the delivery guys as characters in their own version of a video game, using AI and logic to avoid problems on their routes and maintain excellent delivery times.

In conclusion I am very happy with where this project went and where it may yet take me. Even though I have to present tonight I feel myself going back into scatter mode, panicking a little, but knowing that eventually I’ll come out with a better idea about where to go with this project. Thanks so much to Shannon for all the encouragement, Rory for the real hard work on URT, and the rest of you guys for all your support and fantastic ideas.