PacMan Must Die

February 7th, 2005

Lars Holmquist spoke of “PacMan Must Die” at Intel’s Berkeley research lablet Friday.

This is an innovative game developed by Holmquist’s students at the Viktoria Institute’s Future Applications Lab in G–teborg, Sweden. It’s a tweaked-out multi-player version of the classic game Pac Man, with two major twists.

The first twist: characters’ roles are switched. Players control ghosts invading Pac Man’s home turf, trying to recover the dots stolen by Pac Man in the original game.

The second twist: the playing field is distributed across two or more devices held by multiple players.

pmmd-screen2.gif         pmmd-screen1.gif

To finish a level, a player must eat dots not just on her own screen, but on the other players’ screens as well. If you send your ghost through a doorway on the bottom of your screen, the ghost disappears from your device. It enters another player’s screen through a corresponding doorway. The game allows up to five players to join in on the distributed fun.


Players have to look over at one another’s screens to see where to guide their characters. Physical strategy and cooperation become central to this virtual game. Opportunities for new sorts of pranks arise — for instance, you can physically run off with your friend’s ghost.


I love this; it’s another way of combining video game fun with the fun of play in real-world places.

This is the sort of rich, simple innovation that I hoped would emerge with the wi-fi enabled Nintendo DS portable video game system. But Nintendo seems to have locked down DS development, limiting it to internal and professional developers. Such professionals have years of experience and training in building traditional games. This background cripples their ability to innovate, to see beyond the constraints of traditional game platforms.

Nintendo, learn from eBay and Google and Amazon: let customers and outsiders build value for you. Open your platform and let it thrive.

8 Responses to “PacMan Must Die”

  1. comment number 1 by: Smart Mobs

    PacMan Must Die: Cooperative Physical/Virtual Gaming

    Students at the Future Applications Lab in Gˆteborg, Sweden have developed “PacMan Must Die,” an innovative video game with a playing field distributed across mobile wi-fi-enabled devices belonging to all the players.

  2. comment number 2 by: Billy

    I don’t think that this will beat popularity of good old pacman. It’s interesting idea – but I think that looking to someone screen during game isn’t so comfortable.

  3. comment number 3 by: networked_performance

    PacMan Must Die

    Collaborate or Lose Students at the Future Applications Lab in G–teborg, Sweden have developed PacMan Must Die, an innovative video game with a playing field distributed across mobile wi-fi-enabled devices belonging to all the players. The game combine…

  4. comment number 4 by: Jonathan Gall

    I really love this concept !

    We all know that the future of video games is online multiplaying. The huge success of World of Warcraft is just the first step of an emerging big way of gaming/living.

  5. comment number 5 by: raj3

    you will soon be able to run homebrew games on the ds, , you can see they are making alot of progress in the short timespan the ds has been out. and in my opinion the use of the touch screen in the ds wario game is quite innovative already.

  6. comment number 6 by: sean

    RE: –


    That’s fantastic news. Finally…

    Not really familiar with the touchscreen use. It’s kind of pathetic that

    I write about this but still haven’t played with a DS… But it’s the

    possibilities that the portability and the social wi-fi aspects bring that

    get me excited. I don’t feel much urge to see another standard mario game

    though so I haven’t checked out the unit firsthand.

    PS- it’s, not .com..


  7. comment number 7 by: Confluence: Day To Day

    PacMan Must Die


  8. comment number 8 by: play pacman

    you can play ms. pacman here :