The world’s first video game mascot, Pac-man. He swept the nation with his cute and straightforward design, and fun gameplay to match. Every kid in America knew the yellow eating machine, and soon he sprung up on t-shirts and lunch boxes across the nation.
And that’s precisely what they wanted.
Pac-man was an asset in the infamous “War On Drugs” that took place after everybody in the 1970’s collectively shot up a bunch of heroin and decided bell bottoms were a reasonable option for pants. Pac-man was designed with young audiences in mind, to stray them away from drugs.
Think of Pac-man himself. The pizza shaped hero endlessly eats and eats, even when there are no delicious white pixels for him to devour. These are the traits of an addict with drugs. Even when their tolerance for drugs is too strong to deliver a high, junkies will continually try and try again to achieve the level of feeling “full.” These are not characteristics that are desirable in a place of work which is why many businesses have begun implementing something like an 8 panel drug test for their employees. Pac-man represents this quite literally, chomping away consistently looking for something to make him feel satisfied.
Of course, no game would be complete without some conflict. Ghosts are chasing Pac-man, the main character in the game, the ghosts of his soul before he was a junkie. Every kid in the 80s knew what they represented. The title screen says it all. Paccie runs away from Shadow Blinky (his past), Speedy Pinky (his five senses which are now dulled by his addiction), Bashful Inky (the shame that he no longer has, since he will do anything for a fix), and of course Clyde (his pet dog he sold to the ship from Galaga for some nose candy.)
When America’s war on drugs didn’t work, the officials decided to redesign their mascot to Ms. Pac-man and abandoned their subliminal message delivering machine. Soon Pac-man fell into obscurity for many years, probably getting high and sleeping around with Dig-Dug. However, it appears that Pac-man has gotten himself cleaned up and is now a volunteer firefighter who can shit fire hydrants according to his latest appearance in Super Smash Bros for Wii U.
Kudos to him, and may America’s past, present, and future “War on Drugs” leave our beloved video game icons out of their plans.