MapCarte 368/365: PAC-MAN Google Maps by Google, 2015

MapCarte368_pacmanPAC-MAN Google Maps at Taj Mahal, India

Take a classic map and combine it with arguably the world’s most loved video arcade game PAC-MAN. Genius! We’ve highlighted the importance and design credentials of Google Maps in MapCarte already (MapCarte 116) but the ability of Google to take their platform and come up with imaginative ways for us to engage with maps knows no end. Of course, they’re no strangers to using their map as a basis for a game as their Cube game demonstrated in 2012 (MapCarte 90)

You navigate the maze of streets as PAC-MAN, consuming pac dots and other bonus items while avoiding Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde. The bonus items include the typical fruit icons from the original game but added are a Google Maps marker and Peg Man – nice touches. The game play is superb and very faithful to the original as you use cursor keys to move PAC-MAN around. They’ve even managed to get it working nicely on mobile devices using swipe gestures.

The re-styling of streets from Google Maps into the PAC-MAN maze is also faithful to the original with the dark background and neon blue maze structure being applied to street casings. It’s wuite simply a lovely re-imagination of the game and a fun way to repurpose the map to provide an entertainment medium.

Sadly, the game appears to be a temporary fixture for Google Maps but in marrying these two design greats they’ve proven that maps really can afford a template for all manner of purposes.

This video from C:NET illustrates the gameplay


Instructions to play Google Maps PAC-MAN are here.

MapCarte 257/365: Escape the map by Mercedes Benz, 2011

Escape the map was an online advertisement for Mercedes-Benz.  It offers an immersive, interactive experience for the viewer who becomes a participant in the map-based story.  The work has drama, doesn’t overtly force the brand and follows a ‘choose your own adventure’ type plot.  It’s sophisticated, memorable and unique.

The map and map related objects like the falling map pins and address (locator) are key metaphors in the story.  The advert immerses you in the future, how we may use maps in cars and how important location is and will become not just for navigation but as a defining way of living.  The heads up display on the electronic paper map works particularly well.

The work clearly illustrates how popular maps have become in the mass media and there are numerous references to familiar online web map services, virtual globes and their techniques (such as facial blurring on Google Street View) as well as having a sub-plot that references social media such as Twitter.  This familiarity with ubiquitous mapping and social media tools means the advertisement hooks us into a familiar world to tell its futuristic story.

MapCarte 111/365: Mapdive by Instrument, 2013


Click image to go to the web site and play MapDive.

Maps don’t have to simply provide us with reference information or a way to understand the world. They can simply just be art or provide a vehicle for entertainment. Here, Instrument showcase the Google Maps API and capabilities of the Chrome browser in creating an interactive game. It’s simple and effective.

Google’s map, itself, provides a bright and well crafted product suited to the screen. The player controls Google’s Peg Man (from the Streetview product) in skydiving gear as he hurtles towards earth (the map!) and attempts to navigate to a particular location (e.g. Statue of Liberty). You have to control the skydive through hoops and collect objects along the way but what makes the game so well produced is the way the map sits in the view, out of focus until you get closer to its surface. As you end your successful dive the fireworks begin.

Google Maps API: Map Dive Installation from Instrument

While you can play the game in the browser, the use of Google’s Liquid Galaxy shows how maps can provide a platform for an installation where players can navigate through motion-sensed gestures. There’s a highly complex set of technologies that work together to provide this capability and make the game play and experience so smooth and enjoyable. This mirrors the map itself – a lot of great work is required to make a product perform well.

We include Mapdive here because it’s a well designed piece of work that has a map as the central basis of the work. Instrument did not just rely on Google’s default map design though, they showcase a variety of styles by re-styling the base map to correspond to various climates. It’s also just fun and cartography can just be fun!

Plenty more details and images at the Instrument web site here.