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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief


fix this broken machine

i often lament the death of the video arcade. oh, how i could regale all none of my readers with tales of weekends spent at the forest fair mall "time out" area, pwning fools in mortal kombat and street fighter 2... or in the surf cincinnati game room tearing up ninja turtles and the simpsons (which were pretty much the same game with sprites swapped, but still righteous)... or on put-in-bay island in their small arcade in the park, while my mom and dad and brother enjoyed the beautiful scenery, i joined three other kids in beating x-men for the fortieth time... up at cedar point, where they had a seemingly endless room with hundreds of machines. i would visit that place in my dreams, sometimes.

pretty much anywhere we went, the first thing i did was look for the arcade. while most everyone else was 'playing sports' or 'talking to girls' or 'developing socially' i was learning every combo Ryu had, slapping my quarter up on the machine to call 'next', printing out MK2 move lists i got off usenet and selling them to downtrodden kids for $2 a pop. looking back, i could have charged them $5. but i was a fair tradesman, trying to help out my kin, not rip them off.

i remember walking in the days they'd just gotten new games - MK3, super street fighter 2 with the four new characters, killer instinct. all of us stood there with our jaws on the floor, excited and scared to try our hand at the unknown.

my kids will likely never play in a real arcade. dave & busters, gameworks, while possessing large rooms filled with arcade games, they just aren't the same. there's a bar, for one, and mostly driving/light gun games, a different kind of skill and passion required to excel. which no one's trying to do, in a place like that, they are just passing time between drinks, usually, or wandering around trying to find something that looks semi-interesting. they aren't crowded around the 65" flatscreen watching the local pro at SF2 take down everyone that challenges him, watching closely, trying to figure out how he did that combo. it's a different world, now.

of course, with enormous HDTV's at home connected to consoles pumping out better graphics than we could have ever imagined, with internet connectivity and nintendo wifi and xbox live to play with friends and strangers, we don't need these places anymore. it's quite sad, really.

so seeing this week's 1up show where they visit the california extreme arcade expo, made my eyes widen a bit. kathleen mentions in the show her dreams of coming to a place where all the games were and you could play them all for free, a dream i've shared. the game on expo in chicago last year brought some of that back for me - i'm kind of thinking of how much fun a trip out to this thing would be.

i long to play classics like lethal enforcers (and its pastel blue and pink guns), operation wolf, samurai shodown. stuff that you can only really experience in the arcade... hands around the small plastic gun replica, the generic terrorist threat, the only true enemy in the world, scrolling left to right across the screen, their grainy digital groan crackling as you hand out your ten-year-old justice.


for this post

Blogger MikeE Says:

I loved playing arcade games so much I went to work at Time-Out. Ahh those were the good ol' days. If I ever win the lottery I'm getting a giant arcade game room.

Blogger Quentin Says:

Money is the reason that arcades are so awful now. Game manufacturers are only selling games that make arcade owners lots of money, and in order for that to happen games have been redesigned with one factor included in all of them: a time limit.

Think about all the games out there at the 'arcades'. Shooters (all move at a specific pace), fight games (time limits), racing games (time limits). The idea that you can put in one (or four!) quarters and play until you beat it is just not good money for the arcade owner. Capitalism at its finest.

Blogger Darren Says:

I can visualize you at all of those locations (except Put-in-Bay). I miss those places because I have a few fond memories of those days. I pretty much shut down the part of the brain that holds memories from age 14 through 18 so it is nice to revisit the part of the brain that is still in tact- the time when arcades ruled.

I hear Put-in-Bay is amazing. Let me know if you ever want to go back. Em and I will go anytime you and Renee want to go.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

i'm not sure i would describe it as amazing. it's a fun day trip, there are enough things to do to keep yourself occupied... and yeah, i'd love to take you guys up there sometime. we can hit cedar point too - make a weekend of it.

Blogger Darren Says:

Sounds great! Em and I planned on going to Cedar Point this summer, but Em's school took up too much of her time. Let me know when you want to go back up that way.

Anonymous Artie Says:

J, how much of the draw of the arcade is the sense of community? I've been wondering if innovative controls like the Wii + HD + larger displays + instant online delivery of content = arcade experience. Sounds like the missing component is other folks there.

Anonymous Artie Says:

J, how much of the draw of the arcade is the sense of community? I've been wondering if innovative controls like the Wii + HD + larger displays + instant online delivery of content = arcade experience. Sounds like the missing component is other folks there.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

so yeah, there was a lot of that there - sitting in the arcade i knew i was around my kinfolk - people that loved gaming as much as i did... i think that's why LAN parties still work... why E3 and QuakeCon and PAX are so popular... it satisfies that innate human need to be accepted and to feel normal and to belong.

like i said in the post - i think the console online services provide a semblance of that - a group of folks wanting to game together, but they don't have to leave their house now. it's definitely not a substitute for the old school arcade experience, but i think our generation is the last to desire that. LAN parties and online gaming are the future and they're different, but still fun and community-driven.

i do take solace in my brother going to game at his friends' houses on the weekend instead of sitting at home and doing so on xbox live. i don't think that experience will ever die.


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