Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the spelling of “Sevcik.”
CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — PAC-MAN is arguably the most popular arcade game in history. Debuting to the world on May 22, 1980, the game has been played over a billion times by people all over the world. One such player is Derek Sevcik of Hampden Township, Cumberland County.
“It changed the landscape of video games,” Sevcik said from his basement, where he has spent countless hours playing the game on his mini PAC-MAN game console.
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His wife, Stephanie, bought him the console as a birthday present in February of 2021. “I didn’t think he was going to be a PAC-MAN world champion, but I thought he would like the challenge of trying to beat his score on a regular basis and getting better,” she said.
After playing the game on his mini console for weeks, he started to research techniques on how to improve his scoring on the game. “All I was doing is moving away from the ghosts, running from them, and if you learn how they move, you can manipulate in position and position where you are.”
One night, after practicing for a month, he scored 30,000 points, the maximum amount, through the first two boards in the game.
“I hit that and I texted my family who was upstairs, and I said, ‘I am going for the highest score ever, I’m going to do this.’ In PAC-MAN, there are 256 total boards, and to record a perfect PAC-MAN score, you must eat every ghost, every prize,” he explained. Achieving that will get you a score of 3,333,360.
Sevcik knew he had to put in the work to achieve this feat, but he also had to change the hardware he was playing on. “I realized, that in order for a score to be authentic, it has to be done on original hardware,” he said.
So Sevcik drove to Philadelphia and picked up a Ms. PAC-MAN machine and dropped in a PAC-MAN PCB (printed circuit board) over Labor Day weekend.
Sevcik’s wife Stephanie didn’t realize how many hours he was playing. “He almost beat it the one time and said ‘Oh, that was like five and a half hours.’ And I realized how much time he was spending down there,” she said.
On November 14, 2021, Sevcik started a game, and “everything just started to click,” he said. Four and a half hours later, he reached the end of the 256th board, with a score of 3,333,360.
“The fact that only 10 other people have done it before, that’s an accomplishment in my book,” Sevcik said. “To say I am one of 11 people in the world to have done something, it is just a great feeling.”
Watch Sevcik’s record-setting game here.