Research Analyses Pac-Man’s Broad Appeal – and Its Influence on Capitalism

Pac-Man is an arcade game and video game character that needs no introduction. Many of us will remember that first time encountering a Pacman arcade table back in the 1980s, and the game is still popular today. What makes it so popular, though?

This is a topic explored in a new book called The Pac-Man Principle: A User's Guide to Capitalism. It was written by Dr. Alex Wade who is a senior research fellow at Birmingham City University in the UK.

That’s not all either, as Dr. Wade also delves into Pac-Man’s influence on capitalism in the West and across the world. His conclusion is that Pac-Man is as much about capitalism as it is about gaming.

A Global, Multi-Generational Phenomenon

Pac-Man first appeared in arcades in 1980. Since then it has featured on just about every gaming platform with at least 60 different incarnations and iterations.

Pac-Man is also one of the most recognized arcade characters of all time. In fact, it has transcended generations, with seven-year-olds playing it on their tablets today the same way their 45-year-old parents played it in their local arcade back in the 80s.

In addition, Pac-Man doesn't suffer from the same restrictions in appeal that other games struggle with as it is enjoyed by men and women as well as people from all cultural and demographic backgrounds.

Why Is Pac-Man So Popular and What Influence Has It Had on Capitalism?

So, why does Pac-Man have such wide appeal? According to Dr. Wade, it all comes down to the need of everyone to eat. In Pac-Man, that is the objective of the game – to eat.

Therefore, Pac-Man taps into our need to consume and, according to Dr. Wade, pursue “equality through the pleasure principle of consumption”. He adds this is good for profits.

His analysis goes further than this, though, as he says Pac-Man has also influenced capitalism in other ways. An example he gives is the push most people have to achieve the highest score possible, i.e. they want to get to the top of the Pac-Man leaderboard.

According to Dr. Wade, this effort to achieve high scores in Pac-Man has evolved in modern times to, for example, the pursuit of likes on social media.

It is an interesting concept, and one you can read about further in the book The Pac-Man Principle: A User's Guide to Capitalism.

If you would prefer to simply play the game, you should check out our range of arcade machines to get the most authentic Pac-Man experience.