Google Makes Free Pac-Man Game a Permanent Fixture

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-24

Google's 30th birthday celebration of perennial arcade favorite Pac-Man was so popular with fans of the venerable video game that the search engine has decided to make it a permanent addition to its Web service arsenal.

Google May 21 published a mini version of Pac-Man, the popular game featuring an insatiable yellow dot that gobbles smaller yellow dots while being chased by ghosts, as a "playable" doodle.

Over the weekend, users who went to pressed the classic "Insert Coin" button, or waited a few seconds for the game to load. Magically, users' computer screens were transformed into that Atari box with the 8-bit cartridge they remember from the 1980s.

The doodle includes Pac-Man's original game logic, graphics and sounds and even original bugs.

Users who wanted to grab a partner could throw in another coin to have Ms Pac-Man join the game. Pac-Man is controlled with arrow keys or by clicking on the maze, while Ms. Pac-Man is controlled using the WASD letter keys.

"Pac-Man seems like a natural fit for the Google homepage," wrote Marcin Wichary, senior UX designer and developer for Google.

"They're both deceptively straightforward, carefully hiding their complexity under the hood. There's a light-hearted, human touch to both of them. And we can only hope you find using Google at least a quarter as enjoyable as eating dots and chasing ghosts. You know, without actually needing any quarters."

The free doodle game proved so popular, according to Marissa Mayer, vice president of search and user experience for Google, that Google May 23 moved the doodle game to its own permanent Web page on Google at

It's not a big deal, but it's one of those small gestures that fosters good will among Google users all over the world. That good will may come in handy as regulators continue to pressure Google for its various expanding business interests.

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