Consumerist Pac-Man and Socialist Tetris (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)
“Pac-Man” is a game about gathering resources while fleeing from predators. It gives pleasure to those areas of our brain that remember what it was like being a tiny but clever mammal, surrounded by threats that are deadly but not too bright. Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde pass over the Power Pills without triggering them; Power Pills are resources, like sticks or chips of flint, whose secrets were beyond the grasp of the beasts that preyed on our ancestors. The Power Pills are tools. But the dots Pac Man eats are just stand-ins for the quarters consumed by the arcade game. It’s the ultimate consumerist game, coming out of Japan and becoming popular in America — two centers of capitalism.
Compare it with a different sort of game, one that emphasizes sorting and organizing resources, where having too much without distributing it efficiently leads to a loss. Is it any wonder that Tetris emerged from communist Russia?