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Watch Pac-Man Become A Tale Of Survival Horror

An age-old favorite is reimagined with a new perspective, and it’s a lesson on how design can vastly shape experience.

Watch Pac-Man Become A Tale Of Survival Horror

I’m tiptoeing around. I peek around a corner. All is clear, so I make my way down the empty corridor. I should feel safe in this moment of stillness, but I can’t let my guard down. Because with every safe step I take, I know that I can only be one step closer to my unseen enemy.

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That’s when I see him. At least 10 feet tall. Confidently pink. Does he see me, too? I won’t know until it’s too late. My stomach drops as my only recourse sets in–I need to make a break for it. If I can only make it to the power pellet in time …


This is the experience of FPS-MAN, by Tom Davies, and even if videogames aren’t exactly your thing, it’s an excellent lesson in how a functionally parallel experience can feel completely different with the most basic decisions of interface.

Because while Pac-Man is generally a giggle-worthy, fast-paced strategy game, FPS-MAN is a borderline terrifying experience of survival horror. By limiting your perspective, the kiddie maze that’s so innocuous in the original becomes a treacherous labyrinth. And the colorful, pesky ghosts become terrifying monsters when you can’t see them coming until WATCH OUT!


The game also reminds me how top-down the apps of today are built. For ease of consumption, all of our relevant choices are right at our fingertips. And so like Pac-Man, we may strategize, but we never really explore. It’s unfairly heady for me to propose, but I do wonder if there would be value in interfaces (and content consumption) that leaned more toward the lines of limited perspective and surprising media. Snapchat achieves some of this, in a sense, as does Rando. But what could Facebook be through another lens? It could be 100 different experiences. It could be a recipe service, a shopping network, a collection of eulogies, or a parody site that made fun of new babies. Or it could just be a place where a 100-foot Zuckerberg appears on screen at any time to consume your friends.

Try FPS-Man here.

[Hat tip: Prosthetic Knowledge]

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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