Up, not North

Pac-Woman and Mr. Pac-Woman ROM hacks

January 6th, 2014 § 9

Often, male is assumed to be the “default” gender for fictional characters. For example, while trying to ensure gender balance in the geeky alphabet blocks I made for my son, I came across the fact that there is apparently official confirmation that R2-D2 has “masculine programming.” (Seriously, why does R2-D2 need to have a gender at all?!)

In her  “Ms. Male Character” video, Anita Sarkeesian examines this tendency as it applies to video games. She points out that while Pac-Man is assumed to be male without any special indicia, Ms. Pac-Man is marked as female with stereotypically feminine features. This Tumblr post illustrates the point by reversing the situation, making Pac-Woman the default and giving Mr. Pac-Woman the gender-specific features.

Inspired by this, as a little project on New Year’s Day, I modified the original Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man arcade ROMs to create playable versions of Pac-Woman and Mr. Pac-Woman. 

This is the only place in the original Pac-Man where the name appears.

The Pac-Man to Pac-Woman hack is simple: this is the only place where the name appears!

I can’t make the full ROMs available for legal reasons, but here are patches for your own legally-obtained ROMs (patching instructions included). If you know of an easier/better way to let others play these, please let me know! Also, if any artists out there want to make Pac-Woman and/or Mr. Pac-Woman cabinet art, get in touch and I’d seriously consider building physical cabinets for these.

Keep reading for screenshots and information on how I made the changes.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Laser-engraved alphabet blocks

September 20th, 2013 § 3

Shortly before my son was born I started making a set of alphabet blocks decorated with things that his mother and I were looking forward to sharing with him. Then he was born. Apparently, shop time is hard to come by when you’re caring for an infant. Who knew? Now, coming up on his first birthday, I’ve finally finished them.

Pile of blocks

There are 36 blocks — the English alphabet and ten digits — showing 134 images of people, animals, monsters, robots, vehicles, organizations, devices, tools, and objects from some of our favourite movies, TV shows, books, comics, video games, poems, and sculptures, as well as a few from the real world for good measure (and a couple not-so-favourites for comic relief/alphabetical exigency; I’m looking at you, Zardoz). The only real rule I followed in choosing subjects was trying to maintain an even gender balance.

For more information (including the full list of images) visit the project page. For close-ups of the individual blocks please visit this Flickr set or download the contact sheet (6.1MB JPEG).

Category Index

You are currently browsing the Non-electronic category.

Subscribe to the feed for this category.