The Best ‘Pac-Man’ Player Ever, Slack Attack, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today we have a profile of the world’s best Pac-Man player, the success of workplace chatroom application Slack, an interview with a celebrated violinist who toured in New York’s public spaces, and an appreciation of MTV’s role in the fight for gay rights.

First, at KillScreen, a profile of David Race, the best Pac-Man player of all time. Through the King of Kong, we’ve been taught to see champion video game players as usually pigheaded, and maybe a little prickly. Fortunately, Race seems kindly enough, and, what’s more, he seems like a suitably impressive player of Pac-Man.

Race’s playing style is completely relaxed. Slouched to one side, legs crossed, his posture is reminiscent of someone waiting for their bus to arrive. However, his gaze is serious and grip purposeful. Using his thumb and index finger to move the joystick, his movements are so precise that if such a thing existed, he could conceivably earn a living hustling people over games of Operation (1965). Each level is designed to become increasingly more difficult, but to Race they’re all the same. He toys with the ghosts, faking one way and then going another. Each turn is taken milliseconds early like a tennis player hitting a ball on the rise. This causes Pac-Man to literally drift around corners like a souped-up tuner car. “This is called the ‘Fat-Man’ pattern,” he says as he stacks the ghosts like pancakes and eats them in a single gulp.

For Pride month — that’s what June is, in the U.S. — The Atlantic takes a look at MTV and the role Real World played in helping bring the reality of the gay community to the very large audience who tuned into that show every week. This piece goes beyond that, though, and looks at modern MTV programming such as Teen Wolf and True Life that, through sometime subtler means, worked to normalize homosexuality and queerness for teen viewers.

MTV’s typically stunt-packed award shows, the Video Music Awards and the MTV Movie Awards, exemplify how activism, ratings-grabs, and celebrity PR can often coincide. The 1999 VMAs, where drag queens modeled Madonna’s outfits, and the 2013 awards, where Madonna presided over a crowd of gay and straight weddings, make it into the Proudest Moments highlights reel; thankfully, perhaps, her kiss with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 VMAs did not. We’re also reminded of Brokeback Mountain winning a Movie Award for “best kiss,” Lady Gaga walking the red carpet with an entourage of discharged gay soldiers, and Miley Cyrus bringing queer homeless youth and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants to the VMAs stage.

At Longreads, a very “longreads” piece: an interview with Michelle Ross, a celebrated violinist who played Bach’s solo violin cycle at free concerts around New York City. On how she chose where to perform:

My criteria were that the spaces be free, public in nature, and have inherent potential for an intimate, profound experience of this music. So, no competition with other noises. If I played in a restaurant or a bookstore or a coffee shop, I’d tell them ahead of time so they could turn the music off. I didn’t know what to expect because I’d never done a pop-up concert before. The first day was at the Hungarian Pastry Shop and I was really scared because there’s an energy in there: it’s intense, and people are busy or studying. I asked Philip [Binioris, the owner], “What should we do? Should we announce it?” And he said, “No. People might want a little push-back.”

Finally, a look at the current state of Slack, the workplace chat software that somehow took the world by storm, even though it’s not quite clear why it’s so appealing. (Full disclosure: we use Slack at Flavorwire, and its namesake is fitting.)

Enter Slack. “You don’t want your phone buzzing in your pocket all day,” says Hardie. “So you can just do it through Slack, instead.” Indeed, Slack offers all the functionality of texting, and more: The features designed to make the workplace more playful—GIFs, embedded songs from Spotify, custom emoji, funny replies from Slackbot—turn out to be equally fun with friends. So Slack has become the boss-approved way to chat with your friends on the clock, replacing Google Chat or clandestine texting. “There’s a perception that if you’re using iMessage, you’re texting, for personal use,” says Jake Kanter, a sales account executive at Uber who uses Slack to chat with his friends throughout the day, even though he uses Hipchat with coworkers. “Slack is commonly used for business communication, so it’s more work-appropriate.”