A lot of my childhood was spent at arcades inside malls. In the Philippines (that’s where I grew up!) we have big malls which would usually have a big arcade. The arcades were a mix of ticket redemption games — I rocked the skeeballs, back in the day — and a mix of a lot of traditional games, like fighting games, etc.
In the USA, the arcade scene is on and off. Smaller arcade spots that didn’t depend on ticket redemption games are slowly phasing out. It’s hard to compete with the home consoles which are more popular with people today.
I don’t call myself a “gamer” but I do enjoy and play games. Not as much as I used to when I was a little girl since I don’t have as much time now. I beat The Simpsons arcade once when my parents took me to Las Vegas, gave me a bucket of quarters and put me in the hotel’s arcade room because I was too young to be walking around the casino floor. I spent a summer getting really good at Tekken 3 with my cousins on the Playstation then beating everyone with Hwoarang at an arcade in Manila.
Now, I own a first generation Wii and the Playstation 3. Plus, I have World of Warcraft installed on my home computer. I rarely ever play on them though because I feel guilty spending time that could be spent on productivity (yes, I am one of those people).
This is where the difference comes in when I go to an actual arcade, like Japan Arcade in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Although spending money on arcade games is another different level of guilt, there is something about being in an environment dedicated solely to playing games that makes me, well, want to play games!
Usually, you’ll find me on Taiko no Tatsujin at Japan Arcade or making a poor attempt at the Para Para machine. But I do find myself willing to try new games more at arcades . . . and it’s more fun to actually hold a gun up to shoot zombies on an old school House of the Dead machine. Or typing if you’re into Typing of the Dead instead.
When I lived and visited Japan, we went to arcades just for the heck of it to spend all our 100 yen coins (which is equivalent to one US dollar) playing Taiko or trying the new crazy Gundam game. For me, it’s a lot more fun to goof around in an arcade with other people than sit at home trying to beat the same boss for hours. Though yes, I’ve done both and each one has a different feeling of accomplishment and pride, for sure!
Maybe it’s just one of those childhood nostalgia things but I do miss having carefree days when I can spend literally hours just playing at an arcade. Round One is now expanding a lot more in Southern California so I don’t think arcades are going to disappear completely just yet. I like to see video games still be a human contact activity and social environment for people who love them. It’s one of the best way to make nerd friends. Or show of your skills… either way!
Do you have an arcade in your neighborhood still?