Magazine article The World and I

Pac Is Back: Craze Turns Homes into Eighties Arcades

Magazine article The World and I

Pac Is Back: Craze Turns Homes into Eighties Arcades

Article excerpt

David Eldridge is a writer for The Washington Times.

Why didn't somebody see this one coming? In a culture that is obsessively, endlessly recycling and reliving its own past (A "new" Beatles album, The Brady Bunch on DVD, Jim Carrey is the Grinch), it was inevitable that we'd find a way to resurrect Pac-Man sooner or later.

Pac-Man, the beeping, blinking little yellow dot-eater that was as much an icon of the eighties as Duran Duran and J.R. Ewing, is back, and he's not alone. The video-game industry, tapping into a reservoir of nostalgia and maybe some latent frustration on the part of parents fed up with such hyper-violent games as Grand Theft Auto and Doom, is repackaging hits such as Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga for modern audiences.

The $7 billion industry expects to do about $250 million this year on what are being called "retro" games. The games can be loaded onto computers or into newer consoles such as the Nintendo Gamecube, or, even better, purchased preloaded into a joystick-type setup that just plugs right into your television set.

It's called plug and play, and the systems, from different manufacturers, sell for about $20. Which is, if I remember correctly, about what envelop my buddies and I would drop into the arcade machine in one afternoon way back when.

Toy executives such as Eric Levin, vice president of Techno Source, a Hong Kong-based company with offices in New York, think the appeal may have something to do with September 11. Since that day, he says, there's been a "craving for innocence. The world has become such a complex place," he says, that families "yearn for that simplicity. …

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