Pac-Man chomps productivity

Do you remember the playable Pac-Man on Google.com that I posted last week? Apparently a ton of people played it for the two days that it was up. For about five million hours.

The Pac-Man game proved so popular that Google has now made it permanently available on its own page. The statistics on how many people played and for how long were gathered by software firm Rescue Time. It makes time-tracking software that keeps an eye on what workers do and where they go online.

On a typical day, it suggests, most people conduct about 22 searches on the Google page, each one lasting about 11 seconds. Putting Pac-Man on the page boosted that time by an average of about 36 seconds, the firm said based on the browsing habits of 11,000 Rescue Time users. Extrapolating this up across the 504 million unique users who visit the main Google page day-to-day, this represents an increase of 4.8 million hours – equal to about 549 years. In dollar terms, assuming people are paid $25 an hour, this equates to about $120m in lost productivity, the firm said. For that money, suggested Rescue Time, it would be possible to hire all Google’s employees and put them to work for about six weeks.

Pac-Man, the arcade classic, turns 30

Pac-Man, the arcade video game, was released in Japan 30 years ago this week. The game came to the U.S. in the fall of 1980 and became a pop-culture sensation. Pac-Man spawned more than 400 products, from bed sheets to breakfast cereal. In 1999, a Florida man became the first to achieve a perfect Pac-Man score — 3,333,360

And now, you can play at Google.com! Click the “Insert Coin” button for two-player. Your arrow keys on the right-hand side control Pac-Man, and the W-A-S-D (first person shooter games, anyone?) controls Ms. Pac-Man.