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About



Urban Pac Man

What is Urban PacMan?

It is a large-scale urban game that utilizes the City grid to recreate the 1980’s video game sensation Pac-Man.A player dressed as Pac-man will run in the streets of Lyon while attempting to collect all of the virtual “dots” that run the length of the streets. Four players dressed as the ghosts Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde will attempt to catch Pac-man before all of the dots are collected.Using cell-phone contact, Wi-Fi internet connections, and custom software designed by the PacMan@Lyon team (inspired from the Pac-Manhattan software), Pac-man and the ghosts will be tracked from a central location. In the future their progress will be broadcast over the internet for viewers from around the world.

How did you get this idea?

The original idea comes from a group of students from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications graduate program. Their project, back in 2004, has been developed in order to explore what happens when games are removed from their “little world” of tabletops, televisions and computers and placed in the larger “real world” of street corners, and cities.

How many players are needed for PacManhattan?

Ten. There are five players in the street (Pac Man + 4 ghosts) and five players in a control room. Each Player on the street is teamed with a Controller, both of whom are in constant contact via cellphone for the duration of the game. The role of the Controller is to update the position of their Player as he or she runs through the streets. At every intersection, the Player on the street updates the Controller with their position which is then updated via software and shared with the other Controllers.

Are there really “dots” in the street?

Nope. As Pac Man runs through the street, he is in constant contact with his Controller via cell phone. As Pac Man moves from intersection to intersection, he relays his position back to the Controller who updates this position on a software map. As Pac Man’s position is updated on the map, the dots disappear. The only way for the Pac Man in the street to know which dots have already been eaten is by talking to his Controller.

How do the ghosts “eat” Pac Man?

By tagging him! Same goes for when Pac Man eats a Power Pellet and tries to eat the ghosts.

How do the other ghost know when Pac Man has eaten a Power Pellet?

Remember, all players in the street are in constant contact with their Controllers via cell phone. When Pac Man’s eats a Power Pellet (read: touches the street sign at that intersection), Pac Man’s Controller broadcasts this information to the four ghost Controllers who then relay this information to the Player ghosts on the street.

What is your philosophy?

Pacman@Lyon defines itself as a child of both street-culture and video games generation. Our goal is to give people the opportunity to make the city theirs by transforming it into a huge playground.We chose to focus on the social aspect of the game rather than the technological aspect : we don’t use GPS, each player has a partner on a cell phone, this allows more team play. From the technical point of view, we encourage the free software philosophy and we use Linux, Firefox, Apache, etc…At the beginning, the Urban Pacman games were unexpected events like flash-mobs. The recent success of the game encourages us to organize more public sessions with the game association “Moi j’m'en fous je triche” (I don’t care, I cheat), but we’ll try to surprise the people in Lyon by improvising some “wild games” from time to times.