Google celebrates Pac-Man's 30th anniversary and destroys productivity around the world

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man, Google has created the first-ever interactive and playable doodle, or custom home page logo. Seen here is a screenshot of the game, as it is being played on the Google home page.
(Credit: Google)

Saturday is the 30th anniversary of the release of Pac-Man, and to commemorate the occasion, Google is rolling out its first-ever truly interactive and playable home page logo, a fully-functional version of the iconic 1980s video game.

For years, Google has produced its so-called doodles for all kinds of holidays and special occasions, from Valentine's Day to the Fourth of July to Mother's Day and many others. In each case, the Google Doodle team works on a special logo that appears on the search engine's home page.

But a few months ago, when the team discovered that May 22 would be the 30th anniversary of the release of Pac-Man in Japan--it was actually called Puck Man, but that name was rejected in the United States because of the propensity of the "P" to chip and look like an "F"--they knew they had to do something extra special.

"When we became aware of the...anniversary," said Ryan Germick, a member of the Google Doodle team, "we thought it would be awesome to create not only something that references Pac-Man on the home page, but also something playable."

Until now, the most interactive of the logos had been one last Halloween that users could click to see more candy, and another for Isaac Newton's birthday that dropped apples. But for the Pac-Man celebration (see video below), Google has pulled out all the stops and has built, from scratch, a fully-playable version of the game, complete with 255 levels and re-created (but authentic) sounds and graphics. And unlike most of the special logos, which disappear off the home page--but are available in perpetuity in the archives--when the day is over, the Pac-Man doodle will stay up for 48 hours.

According to Germick, the company worked with Pac-Man's publisher, Namco Bandai, to make the project as realistic as possible. Yet the Google team, with the inspirational lead of Marcin Wichary, a Google senior user experience designer, built their version of the game from the ground up using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

"We are very excited about the Google doodle project," Namco Bandai President and CEO Kenji Hisatsune told CNET by e-mail. "With this being the first time Google has ever included sound or made a doodle playable demonstrates just how big of an impact Pac-Man has made. "

And in the end, Wichary made a "picture-perfect" version of the game, Germick said. Except for one thing, of course. Being a Google home page logo, it had to have the word "Google" in its design, so Wichary, Germick and their colleagues built their version of Pac-Man so that it had the search engine's name in the middle of the iconic board.