Been stuck into Pacman maps and cartographic representations lately, as the one above (that represents the "strawberry and first Orange" levels. I found the one above at this Unified Resource Locator when practicing random combinations of keywords on the Google (an activity I often carry out with a keen interest).
I do not really know why but they seems highly peculiar and remarkable, perhaps as a seminal depiction of video game levels; in other words, one of the most important (and early) representation of a digital environment based on a metaphorical grid (Not to mention the 256th "split screen" special).
Beyond this map metaphor, what is also intriguing is the solution possibilities, which are based on the fact that Pacman works on a deterministic but not random. What I mean here is that the opponents you have to escape from have very specific kinds of behavior. Each ghost has a specific role (chaser, ambusher, fickle and stupid). As explained on the Wikipedia:
"enabling experienced players to devise precise sequences of movements for each level (termed "patterns") that allow them to complete the levels without ever being caught. A later revision of the game code altered the ghosts' behavior, but new patterns were soon developed for that behavior as well. Players have also learned how to exploit other flaws in the ghosts' behavior, including finding places where they can hide indefinitely without moving, and a code bug occasionally allows Pac-Man to pass through a non-blue ghost unharmed. Several patterns have been developed to exploit this bug. The bug arises from the fact that the game logic performs collision detection based on ghost / Pac-Man occupancy of grid squares, where the grid squares are large relative to the size of the characters. A character occupies (for collision detection purposes) only one grid square ("tile") at at time, despite its graphic depiction overflowing to another tile. If a ghost and Pac-Man switch tiles with each other simultaneously (which is not a rare phenomenon, because the tiles granularity is large), a collision isn't detected"
The solution is about finding patterns about the grid and artifacts' behavior, which is something some players understand and some others never get. At least, some who did, took some time to get it or were told to spot a pattern.
Why do I blog this? Pure curiosity towards this historical piece of culture. There must be something to nail down here about Pacman's grid (and players' behavior) as a metaphor/vehicle for discussions nowadays about the advent of augmented maps. We all know the cartographic representations updated in real-time (or in a more asynchronous way) and based on the aggregation of digital traces. Mapping the use of cell-phones for instance to highlight urban activities with a platform such as Citysense.
To what extent the "instant maps" based on the collecting of digital traces will require users to perform the same pattern analysis than Pacman maps? Should it be like them? different? How can we formulate the difference and help users to spot patterns?
But wait. What is pattern anyway and why do we need to reveal them to people in the first place?