Pacman Celebrates its 30th Anniversary – Google Style

If you have gone to Google today, you have probably noticed that Google’s newest Doodle is a Pacman board. Doodles are known as the decorative changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists and scientists.  May 22 marks the 30th anniversary of the game we all loved and played as kids, and to commemorate Pacman’s anniversary Google has created this one-of-a-kind Pacman Google Doodle.  This doodle is unlike any other Google doodle that has come before it because the Google Pacman logo is actually Google’s very first interactive doodle in the form of a Pacman game you can actually play.

On May 22, 1980, Namco Bandai Games released the game, which was originally called Puck Man, in Japan.  It was later renamed Pac-Man and debuted in the U.S. in October 1980.  It’s been reported that the company sold more than 100,000 units in the first year of production.

When you go to the main page of Google, under the Pacman Google Doodle, there is your search box as it always appears and under it there is the usual “Google Search” button.  But rather than the “I’m feeling lucky” button you usually see, there is now an “Insert Coin” button instead. Users can click the “Insert Coin” button or simply wait a few seconds to get the game going, or click it twice to kick-off a two-player game, both of which can be played using the four arrow keys. The letters in the word “Google” are the walls inside a mini version of the game.

Marcin Wichary, senior UX designer and developer, wrote on the company’s official blog, “Google doodler Ryan Germick and I made sure to include Pac-man’s original game logic, graphics and sounds, bring back ghosts’ individual personalities, and even recreate original bugs from this 1980’s masterpiece.  PAC-MAN seems like a natural fit for the Google homepage,”

The History of the Google Doodle

As you know I often write about Branding for your business. Google has created it’s own Brand in it’s logo and the Doodle feature is what has made the Google Brand unique.  On Google’s Doodle 4 Google Page, The Company explains,

Having a little bit of fun with the corporate logo by redesigning it from time to time is unheard of at many companies but at Google, it is a part of the brand. While the doodle is primarily a fun way for the company to recognize events and notable people, it also illustrates the creative and innovative personality of the company itself.

The Google Doodle has gotten so popular that many people will frequent the site just to see what the newest doodle is. In fact, Google dedicated a Holiday and Events – Google Style page on it’s website where you can see all of the doodles Google has created over the years and what dates they were featured on the site.  Some of my favorites was the Mars Rover Landing Which was featured on June 15, 2004, Albert Einstein’s Birthday, March 14, 2003, Dr. Seuss’ Birthday, March 02, 2009, Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster, on November 05, 2009 and the 20th Anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope April 24, 2010.  And given that this site is a site on Intellectual Property, who can forget the October 07, 2009 Invention of the Bar Code and the May 16, 2008 Invention of the First Laser?

Origination of the Good Doodle

The Google Doodle was born in 1999, when Google founders Larry and Sergey incorporates a stick figure drawing into their logo to indicate their attendance at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada Desert.  This was their comedic way of telling Google users that the founders were “out of the office.”  Originally the Doodles were created to celebrate some of the more visible holidays such as New Years Day, Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day.  The following year, the founders asked, Dennis Hwang, a Webmaster and now Google’s Chief Doodler who was an intern at the time to produce a doodle for the French National Holiday of Bastille Day, which is celebrated on the 14th of July each year.   Since then, the doodle team has created over 300 doodles for in the United States and over 700 have been designed internationally.

Since 2008, Google opted to expand its reach of the doodle by starting its annual Doodle 4 Google competition where students in K-12 get to express themselves artistically on the Google homepage logo.

“At Google we believe in thinking big and dreaming big, so this year we’ve invited U.S. kids to exercise their creative imaginations around the theme, ‘If I Could Do Anything, I Would …'”

The competition is open to online voting, which incidentally is going on now and runs from  May 18, 2010 6:00 a.m. Pacific Time (PT) to May 25, 2010 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time (PT) this year. What a brilliant way to increase traffic to their site.  It’s sort of like the American Idol of Doodlers!  The best part is that the winning doodle is then featured on the homepage.  This year’s winner will be posted on May 27, 2010.

Pacman will be up on Google for a total of 48 hours–from 8AM PT on Friday, May 21, 2010 through Sunday morning, May 23, 2010.


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Join the Discussion

6 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    May 24, 2010 12:02 pm


    Thank you for your comment. Gene did not write this article and when I write I discuss more of the business aspect of things; Branding, Marketing, Business resources and the like. Gene is traveling this week, but you bring up an interesting topic to discuss so I will bring your suggestion to his attention.

    Thank you for reading


  • [Avatar for Robert K S]
    Robert K S
    May 24, 2010 09:16 am

    I would have preferred, on an IP blog, an article touching on how Pac-Man is able to be cloned without infringing copyright. What are the relevant laws and judicial decisions? What is the copyright and trademark history of the game? Even if the gameplay itself is not copyrighted, are not the images of the ghost and Pac-Man characters copyrighted?

  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    May 23, 2010 01:55 pm

    Wow! Google has thought of everything. I did not even notice the speaker button on the bottom left hand side of the board. BUT, the game is gone already. It was so much fun while it lasted. Happy Anniversary Pacman!


  • [Avatar for Chad Ayers]
    Chad Ayers
    May 22, 2010 08:36 pm

    @WindyD You can turn off the sounds my clicking the little grey speaker in the bottom left of the game.

    Can’t beat the 1st level of Pacman on Google’s logo? Check out my modified version!

  • [Avatar for WindyD]
    May 22, 2010 03:52 pm

    Putting loud, obnoxious sounds that cannot be turned off of a computer is intrusive and wrong. Shame on you Google. That is a horrible and time wasting joke that you put on people.

  • [Avatar for Oliver]
    May 22, 2010 03:35 pm

    My tip: Users can click the “Insert Coin” button to get the game going, or click it twice to kick-off a two-player game – you can play as Ms pacman – controls are w,s,a,d. Enjoy! 🙂

    More info at