Pac-Man, the popular video game blamed for spoiling countless hours of teenagers in the eighties, has gobbled up almost five million hours of work time since it was put on Google's homepage, a report said on Tuesday.
The playable version of the classic video game was introduced by Google on its front page on May 21 to celebrate 30 years since the launch of Pac-Man in Japan. But within three days, it has consumed nearly five million hours of work time, the BBC reported.
The statistics on how many people played and for how long were gathered by software firm Rescue Time, which makes time-tracking software that keeps an eye on what workers do and where they go online.On a typical day, according to the firm, most people conduct about 22 searches on the Google page, each one lasting about 11 seconds.
Putting Pac-Man on the page boosted that time by an average of about 36 seconds, the firm said based on the browsing habits of 11,000 Rescue Time users.
The firm believes this is a relatively low figure because only a minority realised that the logo was playable.
To play, people had to click on the "insert coin" button which replaced the more familiar "I'm Feeling Lucky" button on May 21 and 22.
Extrapolating this up across the 504 million unique users who visit the main Google page day-to-day, this represents an increase of 4.8 million hours -- equal to about 549 years.
In dollar terms, assuming people are paid $25 an hour, this equates to about $120m in lost productivity, the firm said.
For that money, the firm suggested, it would be possible to hire all Google's employees and put them to work for about six weeks.
The game designed by Toru Iwatani was first released by Japan-based Namco into arcades on May 22, 1980.
The search giant reworked the game so the layout was arranged around letters forming its name.
The Pac-Man game proved so popular that Google has now made it permanently available on its own page.
"We've been overwhelmed, but not surprised, by the success of our 30th anniversary Pac-Man doodle," Google vice president of user experience Marissa Mayer said in a blog.
"Due to popular demand, we're making the game permanently available."