NACVGM 2020 – Listening to Pac-Man’s Maze of Melancholy

From the Abstract

Neil Lerner (Davidson College)

Listening to Pac-Man’s Maze of Melancholy

Recently described by Michael Newman as “the Beatlemania of Generation X,” Pac-Man has been discussed by scholars in terms of its industry-shifting disruption of gender norms: it was the first video game to achieve widespread popularity among female as well as male players.  This presentation will focus on an unexplored aspect of its game design and procedural rhetoric, namely its labyrinthine gameplay.  Pac-Man’s maze can be read within a larger history of mazes and labyrinths that invests in them ideas of wandering, searching, melancholy, and amazement.  Pac-Man’s sounds and music, in particular the sound accompanying each time a ghost comes into contact with Pac-Man, deepen these symbols.

Source: Bardic Knowledge

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