Anyone feel like taking a short run Sunday morning?

While we will talk about location and orientation at WhereCampPDX on Saturday, we have a couple of games that will actively explore people moving through locations on Sunday.

On Sunday morning we will play Pac-Manhattan in the North Park Blocks. This is a chase game that is played by teams of runners and operators. The runners take on the roles of the five characters from the Pac-Man arcade game. The operators receive location data from the runners and coordinate the ghosts as they attempt to corner the pac-man.

We need a runner (or three, so they can trade off) to play the part of PAC-MAN and four-to-eight other players who want to walk-and-run around the Pearl District (in the rain) to play the parts of INKY, PINKY, BLINKY, and CLYDE. We’ll need five operators to communicate with the runners (using their own cellphones).
Register on Upcoming and let us know if you want to play!

Pac-Manhattan was developed by students in N.Y.U.’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in 2003-2004. It combines two venerable gaming traditions: Hares and Hounds, and NAMCO’s Pac-Man.

Hares and Hounds (or Paper Chase) was a Victorian-era children’s chase game. One or two runners of a group are designated the “hare”. The hare is given a headstart to run, but must mark their trail with scraps of paper. The rest of the runners, the “hounds”, follow. It is expected that winds might blow the paper trail around and thereby make the chase more difficult (and interesting). Over the course of the 20th Century, the game of Hares and Hounds found a dedicated playerbase in the running clubs known as Hash House Harriers.


  1. Posted October 17, 2008 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Pac-Manhattan sounds like a cross between Pac-Man and cell phone orienteering (“mobile O”, for short). Mobile O is an increasingly popular variation of orienteering, and Seattle-based Cascade Orienteering Club (of which I am a member) has held a few mobile O events in the past couple years.

    In mobile O, teams of two consist of a navigator, who stays at the start/finish area with a map, and a runner, who goes out into urban, park or forest terrain and finds a series of checkpoints by following instructions given over the phone by the navigator. Mobile O puts a premium on simplifying/structuring spatial information and on clear, effective communication under pressure.

    Pac-Manhattan has the added challenge of locating a moving target and coordinating between the ghosts, which sounds hard but fun.

  2. matthew
    Posted October 17, 2008 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Eric!
    I had not heard of Mobile-O before. But the runner with operator support in this context sounds close to the experience I had running in a puzzle race this summer, the Stumptown Challenge.

    In the Stumptown Challenge, my team of two runners plus five or so online operators were given a sheet of five clues that had to be solved for locations in Portland which were waypoints in the race. At one point, a member of our operating team offered to check bus schedules (yes, running and buses were allowed) for connections and best order of traversing the waypoints. It was due to the effectiveness of our operators that my team finished 8th against teams of much more fit runners.

  3. Posted October 20, 2008 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Hi !

    We are also organizing Pac-Manhattan games in Lyon, France. But we thought we were alone. It’s fantastic to learn that we are not alone !
    It would be great to exchange some Pac Man experiences (we are eager to improve the game, and why not to play in other cities). Do not hesitate to contact me !

  4. matthew
    Posted October 20, 2008 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful! Did you run this weekend too?

    We are pushing photos to flickr with the tag “pacmanhattan”, and have posted code to

    I don’t know how we didn’t find you when we were setting this up!

  5. Posted October 20, 2008 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Yes, we had a session on saturday evening, with the jet-lag, we were probably playing at the same time !

    Thank you for the link, I’ll link you on my next blog post (coming very soon).