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Just-Stam
things that just are

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Yahoo! News - Pac-Man Game to Jump from Computer to City Streets

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life," Oscar Wilde once wrote. Little did he know that life would eventually also imitate video games.

New York University students plan to stage a real, live Pac-Man game on Saturday in the streets of Greenwich Village, as part of a project exploring how computer games work when transplanted into real-world settings.

In the hugely popular 1980s game that became a cultural icon, Pac-Man, a yellow circle with a wedge removed for his mouth, gobbled up dots while evading ghostly rivals Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde who also try to gobble him.

This weekend a man in a yellow costume will weave through the streets collecting dots while being pursued by people dressed in ghost outfits whose aim is to stop him before he gathers all the dots.

The characters' movements will be controlled by five interactive telecommunications students, who will instruct them via cell phones from a room with a game map. They will use the map to update the latest position of the players and to see where to send them next.

Frank Lantz, the New York University professor who assigned the project, said his "big games" class is aimed at helping students think of new ways to design games in different spaces.

"We're invading an existing public space and transforming it into a game space," said Lantz. "Video games were often very solitary, so part of the impulse (behind the project) is to explore more types of social interaction."

Perhaps Pac-Man will be glad he waited 25 years before socially interacting with hurried New Yorkers. All will be revealed on Web site (http://www.pacmanhattan.com) after the game.

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