Karen: While I was on vacation last month, I read the book Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I highly recommend this book; this story of a future dystopia where people find release by assuming roles in a pervasive virtual reality gaming platform will appeal not only to gamers, but to most of us here at BAB. The story revolves around a quest which incorporates a number of geek culture touchstones -things like Back to the Future, Star Wars, Japanese monster movies, and lots and lots of video games.
It got me thinking about all the arcade games I used to play, and what made arcades so special. The first arcade games I saw were actually in convenience stores, like 7-11s. But very soon, my small town had a couple of full-fledged video arcades, complete with token machines (remember those?). They became the number one hang out spots for me and my friends. Parents were generally OK with that, I suppose because they seemed harmless, and they knew where we were! It seemed like there were new games arriving every couple of months, but plenty of old favorites to keep trying to beat. It was a lot of fun when you had a good friend or two who would compete with you on a machine for hours at a time.
I played some of the popular games, like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Missile Command, Galaga, Tron, but my favorites were some of the more obscure ones. Early on, I liked a driving game called Death Race. Basically, you had a steering wheel, gear shift, and accelerator pedal, and you ran people over. They were supposed to be "gremlins" -sure they were. At that poor resolution they looked like little people. And when you hit them, they would scream and a tombstone would pop up. I'll admit, I don't know what it said about my 13 year old self. My Dad would sometimes drop me off and come back later and find me playing this, and it would bug the crap out of him. "Why in the world are you playing this game?" Well, probably exactly because it was something parents hated! But you know what? I came across it a couple of years ago at the Musee Mecanique in San Francisco and played it again. And I ran over every single person -I mean gremlin -I could find and loved it (and got a pretty good score too). I guess I'm still messed up.
|My final screen|