Google Pac-Man Gobbles Up $120M of Work Time

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Least surprising story of the week? The study released Tuesday showing that the playable version of the classic video game Pac-Man on Google’s front page has eaten up five million hours of work time.

Since May 21, people around the planet have been celebrating 30 years of Pac-Man by playing Google’s version on its homepage (which, as Techland pointed out, is pretty faithful to the original).

But now the stats are available on just how many people played and for how long. And it makes for eye-watering reading.  Software firm Rescue Time, thanks to its time-tracking software, can observe where workers go online. Typically, the company suggests, about 22 daily searches on Google are conducted, each lasting around 11 seconds. By putting Pac-Man up, the average time shot up to around 36 seconds, the firm said based on the browsing habits of 11,000 Rescue Time users.

And get this: Rescue Time reckons this is a relatively low figure because not everyone realized that to play, you had to click on the “insert coin” button. If you apply the results of the above to the — gulp — 504 million unique users who visit the main Google page each day, this is an increase of 4.8 million hours. That’s, ahem, just under 550 years. As for lost productivity in dollar terms, by assuming that people are paid $25 an hour, this equates to about $120m.

So definite food — or in Pac-Man’s case, pills — for thought when you need that gaming fix. And perhaps the next study released on wasted hours in the workplace will be based on the time spent reading articles such as these. Game over indeed.