How much productivity did Google's Pac-Man cost us?

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Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) hit a nostalgic nerve May 21 when it posted a mini, playable Pac-Man in its logo spot, reminding people of the innocent days when video games were young. And that little trip down memory lane, in honor of Pac-Man's 30th birthday, cost us 4.82 million hours in productivity, according to RescueTime, a time management software vendor.

RescueTime compared Google usage on May 21 to that on previous Fridays, concluding that the average user stayed on the site 36 seconds longer than usual because of the Pac-Man logo. In a blog post titled "The Tragic Cost of Google Pac-Man," RescueTime founder Tony Wright wrote that the fun and games cost businesses $120,483,800, if you assume Google users are paid $25 an hour on average.

"For that same cost, you could hire all 19,835 google employees, from Larry and Sergey down to their janitors, and get six weeks of their time," Wright wrote.

Then again, do a few moments of unplanned amusement in the midst of the workday really end up reducing productivity in the grand scheme of things? Or does an unexpected little distraction lift our spirits, clear our minds and spur us to get back to work with renewed vigor? For many of us, 36 extra seconds spent on Google's site on a Friday was probably time well spent. 

But making news for oneself by working the words "Tragic" and "Pac-Man" into the same blog post headline: That's priceless.

For more:
- see RescueTime blog post

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