Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) installed a playable Pac-Man game on its website, in place of its usual logo last Friday. Intending only to mark the 30th anniversary of NAMCO's classic game, Google instead crashed the global economy.

I'm kidding, of course. And exaggerating just a bit. But according to Web metrics site RescueTime.com, adding this classic time-eater to the Google homepage consumed some 4.8 million hours of potentially productive worktime around the globe. It cost the economy roughly $120.5 million, as workers who should have been diligently producing TPS reports were instead consuming white dots, blue ghosts, and assorted pieces of digital fruit.

Below we describe the damage in a chart of three bars. The first bar shows the average time Internet users spend on Google each and every day of the workweek (in seconds). The second bar is the time they actually spent on Friday, when Google added Pac-Man to its homepage. And the third? According to RescueTime, 75% of the people who visited Google's homepage Friday did not realize that the Pac-Man logo was in fact "playable." Had more people gotten the joke, RescueTime projects that aggregate time-suckage could have been four times greater than it was (i.e., nearly half-a-billion dollars in productive time, gone to the ghosts).

Game on, Google!
Fortunately, what's bad for global GDP may be good for Google. It seems to me that Google has stumbled upon a new way to make its site "stickier" than ever. What if Google were to add even more of these simple, classic arcade games to its site? If Pac-Man alone had the potential to boost Google's Internet mindshare by upward of 50%, how much more traffic might Google pull with Tetris in its arsenal? Space Invaders? Asteroids?

Listen, Fools. I'm not saying Google should try to take on Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) and Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) in the gaming wars. Fans of World of Warcraft and Madden NFL might find Pac-Man and Pong a little too old-school for their tastes. But could Google rip a page from Facebook and its hoards of zombified Zynga gamers? Could its Pac-Man gambit swipe more search traffic from Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Bing?

Sure it could. And it seems Google's come to a similar conclusion. On Monday, the company announced that it's collaborating with NAMCO to make the Pac-Man/Google game a permanent fixture on its website.

My Take: Good call, Google. And game on!

Take the Foolish Rorschach test. Do you see something different in today's chart? Tell us about it below.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended a synthetic long position on Activision Blizzard. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard. 

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Google and Activision Blizzard. Rich is not a licensed economist, but he plays one on the Web. Check out his latest stock recommendations on Motley Fool CAPS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.