Google Turns its Maps into Pac-Man Game You Can Play
Best mash-up ever: Pac-Man invades Google Maps.
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
Don't go out into the street. A hungry yellow monster is roaming your neighborhood. If you look anything like a fat white dot (and spending eons behind your computer screen will do that to you), he'll eat you. Unless Inky, Blinky, Pinky or Clyde get to him first.
Yes, that's right: Pac-Man is running amuck in your hometown. Or in any town of your choosing. As long as you look it up on Google Maps. Just make sure to click on the Pac-Man button in the lower-left corner.
Pac-Man in Paris.
Without prior announcement, and for an unspecified period of time, Google Maps is offering a 'Pacmanised' version of any street grid on the planet.
The game works exactly like the 1980s arcade classic. Use the arrows to navigate the streets, eat dots and tasty extras, and stay ahead of the four ghosts. Unless you eat a big dot, in which case they turn blue and you can eat them. Clean the screen of dots to move up a level. Turn on the sound to get that nostalgic Wakka Wakka sound. Turn it off again when you see your boss approaching.
Choose your surroundings wisely: It could be impossible to escape the ghosts in single-street towns. On the other hand, complex grids might be good for hiding from the ghosts, but hard to clear of dots.
All pray, no play: The Vatican is off limits to Pac-Man.
It's not the first time Google has rendered homage to Pac-Man. In mid-May 2010, Google changed the Doodle on its search homepage into a playable version of the game, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its release. The game reportedly caused the loss of 4.8 million hours of productivity. The loss has also been calculated as running at around $120 million.
There's no telling how long Google will keep the Pac-Man game available for Google Maps, but since these things are called Easter eggs, chances are you have until the upcoming high holiday to play.
Interestingly, Pac-Man for Google Maps doesn't seem to be working everywhere. Both the divided city of Nicosia and the Vatican generate a fail message. Too few streets for Pac-Man to chomp down on, apparently. But Paris? No problem. Even Raqqa, the unofficial capital of the Islamic State, is not safe from Pac-Man.
Wakka Wakka in Raqqa.
All maps sourced from Google Maps
Strange Maps #708