Okay, let's be honest, the title here is a little on the hyperbolic, sensationalistic side. "Destroyer of Youth and Virtue" is a pretty tough position to fill. In fact, unless you include the masses who spent the majority of their childhood playing the game, I don't think Pac-Man ever destroyed anyone's youth. Virtue, though, is another story.

Most video games put the player in control of some kind of hero, a one-man army type, or a young swordsman. Few games actually go so far as to make the lead character an actual villain, but in quite a few, they just exist and are trying to survive. Pac-Man falls into this last category, but he is by no means a good role model for a young gamer, for a number of reasons.

First of all, Pac-Man runs away from his problems. Ghost chasing him down a corridor? The player jams the stick in the opposite direction, and Pac-Man flees. In a really bad situation, or sometimes when it's not even that bad and just a simple chase, Pac-Man runs right out the door. Granted, he just ends up coming back in the other door, but we'll put that fact aside for the time being. Do you want your children running out the door every time they're in trouble? I thought not.

Secondly, when he chooses not to run from his problems, Pac-Man seeks revenge. Many a time, the ghosts do trap him in a corner, and Pac-Man withers away and disappears. But you can be sure that the next chance he gets, Pac-Man is going to gobble down one of those power pills and run after the poor bastards like he's out for blood. The player, of course, is in control of all this, but this vengeful behavior is rewarded with points; in fact, attacking the ghosts during power pill use is the fastest way to build one's score. And speaking of power pills...

Pac-Man has a drug problem. Each new level brings four more power pills that Pac-Man will eat before progressing to another level, or he will die trying. Yet another unacceptable solution to one's problems, these power pills are most commonly eaten when the ghosts are right behind Pac-Man, and they turn this bad situation right around. Yes, the game portrays drugs as making it all better, and on top of that, at higher levels of the game, the effects of the power pills don't last as long, simulating tolerance. And to think Congress has been getting angry at the increasing realism of violence in video games....

And finally, Pac-Man is a first-degree glutton. Have you ever seen him do anything but eat? Even when there's no food in the immediate vicinity, the mouth continues to open and close involuntarily. Not to mention that those dots he eats are probably loaded with sugar. Once in a while, Pac-Man will eat something with some nutritional value, such as an orange, but he eats it entirely too quickly, and without even peeling the damn thing! To make matters worse, no matter how much he eats, Pac-Man never gains weight. Who knows how many poor souls have been deluded into thinking that they as well can eat and eat and eat, without getting out of shape? This must be stopped!

The unacceptable solutions to problems, the drugs, the gluttony, the vengeful attitude. All of this adds up to one very bad influence that you don't want your children getting exposed to. Keep them away from the little yellow devil at all costs. Stick a nice gun in their hands instead and let them kill a few terrorists or something. It's far better than starting them down the dark path of the Pac.

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