Pacman in Vancouver

              It is Fall, and that means a lot of new students in the School of Computing Science.  This year a tradition continues for new students which is known simply as FroshWeek; where newly admitted CMPT students take part in various activities welcoming them to university life, introducing them to their fellow students, and in general, sharing laughs in all the fun.

             Similar to past FroshWeeks, this year had a PacMacro event, which involves playing a game of Pacman in real life with players running around downtown Vancouver dressed up as Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde, and the ever elusive Pacman.

PacMacro, also known as PacVancouver or PacVan for short, is an adaptation of a similar game that was played in Manhattan, known simply as PacManhattan. The game’s developer, SFU Computing Science student, Andy Lumb, wrote most of the code during his bus commute – making use of the opportunity to learn how to develop Web applications using PHP and MySQL.

             The game is played with 5 pairs connected to each other by cell phone. One partner, the player, dons the appropriate costume and runs around town while the other, the controller, keeps the player informed of various developments within the game. The controller makes use of a computer, which is connected to the actual game server, to do this task.

            “It’s the best thing I ever played,” said Ellis Ly, a first year Computing Science student who enjoyed the life-size quality of the game.





  For the developer, Lumb, the best part is observing the game from the control room and watching it unfold as the ghost controllers let their partners know, “Pacman is up ahead. Get him!” Then the tables turn and suddenly everyone is yelling, “Pacman has the power pill! Run! Run!”

             FroshWeek is an annual event held during the first week of classes and is organized by the Computing Science Student Society for first year Computing Science students.


- Written by Dominic Lau