Pac Man Will Ruin You!

mind at play cover

Mind at Play
The Psychology of Video Games
Loftus and Loftus

I get the feeling that every time a new technology appears, there will be some speculation on how the end of civilized behavior is now upon us. Television, rock and roll, cell phones, texting, video games have all been identified as something that will ruin the minds of the young. I don’t remember if Pong suffered from all the criticism, but Pac Man definitely had the everyone wondering if this addiction would ruin our children. Since they are now adults, I wonder if anyone will confess to Pac Man ruining their childhoods.

If you are old enough, you will see this pattern repeat itself whenever there is a new breakthrough in technology or art that is different enough to be scary to parents and the rest of the establishment. Rock and Roll, cell phones, violent movies, D and D, and television were all part of ruination of society. This is a common theme here at ALB.


mind at play back cover

inside flap

interior text


  1. I’ve been into video games ever since the days of the Atari 2600, but to be honest I think cell phones and texting *are* rotting people’s brains. Just look at all the car accidents because people were texting or on their phone. In fact, I think cars also turn drivers into brain-dead sociopaths, like that Goofy cartoon I saw as a kid, and can’t stand the fact they’re such a necessary evil. It’s bad enough I even have a phone at all. Okay I’m kidding about that last one. Sort of.

    1. “For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in [the invention], produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.”

      Pop quiz: Who said it, and what technology was he or she talking about?

  2. Looks like this is *the* Elizabeth Loftus of memory studies fame. And while the book is obviously a weeder for datedness, it doesn’t seem to be a technology panic treatise that says video game are bad–it’s an exploration of how we deal with this new cultural thing. Quite another thing from old Fredric Wertham.

  3. The cover art instantly marks its publication era. So do the chapter titles. Westminster font-face, you’re bringin’ me downnnn…

  4. If video games were such a bad influence, then everyone in my generation would have spent our college years running around dark rooms, listening to deafening electronica, munching magic pills all while being certain we were surrounded by brightly colored ghosts.

    Clearly, nothing like that ever happened. Clearly.

    1. Video games helped get me through college. Whenever I was stressed or upset, I’d pop a few quarters into Pac Man or whatever game was hot at the moment, and I’d feel much better. Safer than drugs, more fun than meditation, and less tiring than a workout.

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