Pac-Man ghosts

The Pac-Man ghosts have names. Did you know that?

Spend enough time covering video games and you’ll learn some weird stuff.

If you’re a gamer — and I assume you are — you’ve undoubtedly spent at least some sliver of your life playing Pac-Man. It is a treasured piece of video game history. Remarkably, its core gameplay loop still holds up today. And that loop, of course, is trying to gobble up dots and fruit while avoiding a team of colorful ghosts. But did you know those Pac-Man ghosts aren’t anonymous entities, but instead have actual real names? Is that a thing you knew before this very moment?

They do. And that’s not all.

pac-man ghosts game

Yeah, they have freaking names

Pretend you’re you, just out and about, picking up some dots and fruit. There’s a being that wants to stop you from doing so, however. If it touches you, it’ll end your life. How scared would you be if such a being was nameless, orange and have big, round, goofy eyes? Put it on a scale from 1 to 10. Now ask yourself how frightened you’d be if you were being chased by something named Clyde. Instantly adds a couple points, right?

According to this article from ABC, the orange ghost is named Clyde. The red ghost is named Blinky. The pink ghost (quite appropriately) is called Pinky. And the blue/teal ghost is Inky. Every member of this paranormal crew is called something more than “color + ghost.” There are real names happening here.

Two thoughts. First off, it’s not entirely clear why Clyde drew the short straw and didn’t get an “inky” name like everyone else. Second, why go through the trouble of giving them names if they’re all the same? I mean, they do the same thing, right? They don’t have distinct personalities, right? Right?

pac-man ghosts 2

Yeah, the Pac-Man ghosts have their own personalities, too

In Pac-Man, Clyde, Blinky, Pinky and Inky all behave a bit differently. Knowing that — knowing how each one is prone to act — can actually help you strategize a bit while you’re playing.

To know the personalities of the Pac-Man ghosts, you must know what they were originally called in the Japanese version of the game. Clyde was Stupid, Blinky was Chaser, Pinky was Ambusher and Inky was Fickle. By now you’re probably starting to feel a bit bad for Clyde. He’s not had an easy time in the Pac-Man world.

So what’s it all mean? Clyde is, well… not sharp. He’ll initially seek Pac-Man out, look like he’s on his way, and then veer off to go do his own thing. Blinky, meanwhile, will remain in relentless pursuit of our dot-gobbling lead. No mercy. Pinky is all about the sneak attack and will try to hover around Pac-Man’s general area before moving in to nab a quick kill. Then there’s Inky — a.k.a. Fickle — who can employ just about any strategy in the book at any given time. That’s where the fickle bit comes from.

Now you know more about the Pac-Man ghosts than you ever thought you would

Today you discovered the names of the Pac-Man ghosts — both Western and Japanese. You learned they’re a bit more complex than you imagined, with full-on personalities that play into how they move.

And you learned that someone in game development, way back in 1980, apparently didn’t like another person named Clyde. That is the only explanation for this particular ghost having to endure such disrespect. Or maybe there’s more to the story? Totalisaurus levels of intrigue right here. If someone knows exactly why someone named the “Stupid” ghost Clyde, please let me know.

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