The New Arcade

My friend KT_Grape commented to me some time ago that she’d never actually been in an arcade. It struck me so much as a point that I still remember it now. It isn’t really that surprising as arcades really do not exist as such any more in the UK.

I’ve joked a few times in recent years that ‘arcades have been banned outside of Japan’ and this was mainly due to how I’d noticed competitive skill-based games like fighting games or shoot em ups were slowly edged out of all Western arcades – or anywhere that was non-dedicated but had  arcade cabinets – being replaced by dull casual-friendly ‘dancing games’ etc. & anything with large cabinet type “experiences”. Now some have said this is because these ‘regular games experiences’ could be abley re-created in the home for all these other games. However that always totally missed the point for me. As arcades died out, what I lost was the focal point of competition. For me, and I wonder how many others, this was the focal point of arcade gaming, and indeed, gaming in general. Whether it be high score chart kudos or some real versus fighting – there was nothing better than playing that game out there, in public. Sure, I wanted to practice my Street Fighting on a console at home where I didn’t have to spend a fortune to work out the kinks in my game, but once I got the chance it was all about then taking my skills to an arcade to prove and test myself. Of course being so young when arcades were in their heyday, not living near anywhere suitable, and the lack of self-sufficient funding meant I rarely ever got to do very much of this.

So when Only A Game got to discussing the changes in the current gaming market, it made me think contrastingly to the thrust of that piece – this really is becoming a new “golden age of gaming” for me these days for completely different reasons to the sales figures. In fact the reason was one of the key things that got me inspired to start writing this blog, and it’s all due to the return of the arcade.

And by that I mean, this arcade:

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Well alright, it would be more appropriate graphic sans the “arcade” part, since that is really a misnomer. But XBox Live itself really is the new arcade. It was starting to become one on the old XBox, but really the implementations weren’t quite good enough. There’s still a long way to go yet & there’s so much more that could be done… but, we’re nearly there. And thankfully not because it reproduces accursed rubbish like Dance Dance Revolution or Alpine Racer, but because it is starting to ably reproduce all those fiero-seeking high score and real life competition challenges that an agoner such as myself has craved all his gaming life. We don’t quite yet have a way to “gather a crowd” on XBox Live, but I sense things like that are coming.

Shin Shiiine Arcade! 😀

As an aside – the closest things to a ‘real life’ arcade experience for me lately have been playing at BOD, and, playing Street Fighter III in a nightclub in London and gathered quite an audience and even something of a reputation with a few people there 😉

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