Google is celebrating the release of the original Pacman video game 30 years ago today in Japan.  Normally when Google wants to commemorate something, they change the logo on the main search page to a piece of art that somehow incorporates the special event.  However, Google outdid itself by not only making the logo look look the original Pacman map … they made it playable.

google pacman

There are two ways to get the game going: either simply sit on the page for a little bit and it will start automatically, or click the “Insert Coin” button that has taken the place of the usual “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.  As you can see, the map has some significant changes from the original such as that stupid “G” requiring you to go inside it to get some dots.  Controlling via the cursor keys works okay at times, but some of the quicker cornering isn’t that easy with them.

What’s interesting is how this has set off a wild storm of gaming nostalgia on Google searches.  Below is a screenshot of the Google Trends search tracker from a little bit ago.  (click to enlarge)


As you can see, people are searching all over for various information on Pacman, but what got me was the old space shooter Galaga coming in at number 11. Apparently Dig Dug was on the list also for a while this morning.

Apparently Pacman has started causing issues in the workplace. Emir Shabashvili, a network manager in the Miami-Dade County (Florida) department of property appraisal, emailed CNET to tell them:

I am [a] computer manager here at Miami-Dade County. Today I [started] receiving calls from users. They were concerned with [the] unusual behavior of [the] Google home page–many of them have Google as [their] home page, along with the County page. [We’re used] to Google celebrating this and that and placing some pictures on the home page, but today it was the annoying sound of [Pac-Man]. Recreational games are banned by county regulations, so I had no choice but [to] delete Google as one of [the] home page tabs on users’ PCs. I wonder how many Google home pages disappeared today all over the globe?

We’re not quite sure if this was the rational reaction as the Google home page is still the Google home page no matter what “recreational game” may be appearing on it for one day.  Course, we’re also kind of curious now what the regulations are on a county employee e-mailing a technology site about his need to remove a time wasting Web site from the system are. ..

Either way, enjoy Pacman while it lasts … and watch out for that “G”!