Play Pac-Man For Potatoes, Help Fight Hunger

Gamers can now feed Pac-Man and a whole lot of people in real life at the same time. All they have to do is play a tweaked online version of the arcade game.

Play Pac-Man For Potatoes, Help Fight Hunger
[Photo: Flickr user Nick Saltmarsh]

In August, Gaea Solutions, a tech consultancy, debuted “PacMan Vs. Hunger” a hybrid version of the power-pellet-pounding classic. It takes advantage of Namco granting developers free-use rights for their original game. But Gaea’s knock-off doesn’t require tokens; it’s free. In order to play, users answer trivia questions about entrepreneurial strategy that can be learned by reading some of the company’s blog posts.


To convert that into food for others, Gaea is holding tournaments every two weeks where fans around the country will log-on and go head-to-head over the course of one hour. Points are awarded for right answers and board-clearing prowess. The company then converts the scores of the top 10 finishers into potatoes—as in, every 50 points equals one potato that’s given to a local food charity in the winner’s hometown.

Well, not actual potatoes. That would miss the point that some people could have more important nutritional needs than spuds. Instead, Gaea plans to donate the equivalent of each root veggie’s market price—between 20 and 50 cents, depending upon place and season—for recipients to spend as they see fit.

According to Gaea president Alex Berryhill, the game was inspired by Free Rice, a vocabulary quiz game from the United Nations World Food Programme that started in 2007 and at one point helped feed 12,000 people a day. Gaea’s betting there’s also a strong appetite for ‘80s nostalgia. To continue press start:

Take the quiz and play the game here.

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About the author

Ben Paynter is a senior writer at Fast Company covering social impact, the future of philanthropy, and innovative food companies. His work has appeared in Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times, among other places.