You take games too seriously.


Djiboutian villagers line up to play Pac Man. Many have been waiting for over five hours.

Djiboutian villagers line up to play Pac Man. Many have been waiting for over five hours.

HARARE, ZIMBABWE – A recently published report from the World Health Organization warns that a new strain of Circus Consumus, more commonly known as “Pac Man Fever,” could possibly spread beyond sub-Saharan Africa if steps are not taken by the global community to contain the outbreak. The report goes on to say that the disease has driven up mortality rates by as much as 12% in at least thirty of the forty-eight countries that make up the region, with the countries of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Angola being the hardest hit.

On Tuesday morning President Bush pledged over 200 million dollars in aid to local hospitals and clinics in those four countries with the hope that they can stop the spread of the disease. He urged other countries to do the same in his weekly radio address.

“Pac Man Fever is a very serious disease that demands that serious measures be taken,” President Bush said.

The first documented outbreak of Pac Man Fever was in 1980, when thousands of young men and women who frequented Japanese urban centers were hospitalized at an alarming rate, all displaying the same three symptoms: fever, severe insomnia, and an addiction to the arcade game Pac Man. These symptoms were replaced by a full-body rash, organ failure, and, in most cases, death.

Japanese efforts to contain the disease failed, and in 1982 Pac Man Fever spread as far west as New York City. The US Center for Disease Control estimates that as many as 2 million Americans were killed by Pac Man Fever between 1982 and 1986. In 1983, it was discovered that the disease was spread through direct contact with an infected person’s sweat, and that the Pac Man cabinet joystick was the likely source of most infection.

For reasons unknown, Pac Man Fever did not spread through Ms. Pac Man machines.

In Africa, much of the problem stems from taboo. In the most heavily afflicted provinces, it is not culturally acceptable to discuss Pac Man or the disease that bears his name. The game itself has been banned in most African countries since 1998.

Despite being banned and condemned by religious leaders who claim that the game promotes gluttony and trivializes the spirit world, lines to play the one Pac Man machine still operating in Harare have grown exponentially over the past two weeks.

The current high score on the machine is 1,101,099 by YUY.



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