Writer and Pac-Man cabinet owner Cat Despira recently posted a blog called Pac-Man: The Untold Story of How We Really Played the Game in which she examines all-too-common wear on the machines and a bit of arcade history.
“As you’re playing, you’re jamming that joystick left and right, up and down, movements that shift your right shoulder forward and back, rocking your body side to side,” Despira wrote. “When the going gets tough, and the ghosts start closing in, all of this rocking motion compels you to lean into the game and, whether you realize you’re doing it or not, you’re going to grab onto the game. You actually need to get a grip… on something.”
Otherwise, she wrote, players would lose their balance. The blog is accompanied by plenty of images, old and new, of players leaning on the left side of the game and the intensive wear – right down to the bare wood – that remains from the balancing acts of thousands of players over the years.