Why arcade Pac-Man players literally grabbed onto the game

Enlarge / Actress Eva Longoria shows off the standard “left side” cabinet grip in a 2007 photo. (credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Did you ever notice that the left-side panel of classic, unrestored Pac-Man arcade cabinets tend to have a distinct wear pattern on their outer finish? Arcade researcher and historian Cat DeSpira did, and she’s written a wonderfully detailed examination of the distinct and largely unremarked-upon arcade playing stance that led to this relatively consistent pattern.

Picture yourself in a really intense Pac-Man session on an original standing cabinet. If you’re like a large majority of the population, your right hand is wrapped around the game’s single control: a joystick centered in the front of the machine. But where do you put your left hand when there are no buttons or secondary controls to occupy it?

Maybe you rest that hand on your side, or place it gently alongside the cabinet’s control panel. But as DeSpira notes, it’s more likely that:

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