Life Size Pac-Man

I’m here to add to TSU’s slow growing collection of ‘life sized’ programs with the version of Pac-Man I did this past summer. I started by looking up what I could find from previous libraries who had done Pac-Man and then adjusting according to what I wanted and needed. I kept it as simple as possible, not knowing what kind of turn out I might get since it was in August, which is noticeably slower than our June/July programs.

Set-up and Game Play:

Using our biggest program space, I set up a very simple grid similar to the tradition Pac-Man game without allowing them to out the sides and pop back up on the other side. It was surprisingly easy after I’d sketched it out to eyeball it on the floor of our room. I used paper plates as the objects they had to pick up so it was easy to a) reset and b) grid out the section.

Please ignore my paper sitting with my sketched grid. The missing corner pieces is deliberate and I’ll explain in a minute. You can see in the front my two short pieces I used as part of my system to make the grid. I put down that line first and then broke that piece of tape into about even sections (marked by the little tape) and everything went from there. You could measure it out, but I don’t often have that much time to set up programs, whether because something is in there before me or just program prep time vs. desk time. The center empty area is, of course, where our ghosts hang out.

You can see my ghosts and pac-man, all simply made with some cut out construction paper and just tied to hang off the kids via some ribbon. The ghosts held up well, the pac-man not as much, his lower jaw flapped enough that I would do something to make that more rigid next time.

Corners were small plastic Easter eggs, taped closed, which worked like the bigger dots in the original game. When they picked up an egg, the ghosts had to walk backward for five seconds before they could again try and tag Pac-Man.

Pac-man got fiveish seconds (I found trying to watch the amusing chaos and time was too much so I guesstimated times) to start before the first ghost was released. And then one every five seconds afterwards. They had to walk with their knees touching (all of them) to move ad keep the speed regular. Every tape line represented a wall they had to go around. Pac-Man was responsible for resetting the plates when their round was done. We played one life but kept the rotations moving quickly so everyone got to be Pac-Man at least once and all who wanted a second turn got it. The others either sat out for the minute or two or were ghosts, which also rotated.

What went well:

The kids had a blast! All of them (about 10-12 even split of teens and tweens) said they had far more fun than they were expecting and would do it again. For the cost of set up, I’d be tempted too. I had all the supplies in house this time which made it an exceptionally cheap program. The grid worked perfectly and they thought my ghosts were adorable (but missing one, we got into a long discussion about the fourth ghost). The program was also a breeze to set up and the kids loved taking it down at the end. The tape and paper plates held up well to the abuse, although the paper plates were useless for anything by the recycling bin afterwards – too many scuff marks from shoes! The kids played well known video game theme songs while we played and there were lots of smiles and giggles.

What I might do differently next time:

Some of this was kids being kids – the enthusiasm in which we forgot the tape meant walls and trying to remember not to run. Also in launching from the ghost bay early.

If I do it again, I’d definitely use the advice from others to use something more substantial than plates – like duplos because the plates were sometimes hard to grab on the fast walk. They also would step on them and then try and pick them up and trip themselves up. I’d like to say I’d have more hard and fast rules about how they play to make it a little less wild (no one got hurt, though!) but, to be honest, that’s not me or the kids I get to these kinds of programs. And I liked watching them try and problem solve their own perceived problems with how I presented Pac-Man. They worked hard to make it more like the original and the innovation was great and really added a fun element to the game.

All of the information I gathered, I got through searching the TSU facebook page for ‘pac-man’ and going through the results.

Any questions? Let me know!


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