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How I learned I still love the Arcade

How I learned I still love the Arcade

by William HarmonFebruary 28, 2012

So I want to share something that I felt was awesome. This last weekend, I was out with friends getting some dinner (which was tasty, but not the point of this piece). Next to the restaurant was an arcade. I hadn’t been in an arcade in ages. Probably since I was 14 and definitely not since online gaming became a standard thing. So we went and checked it out, because why the hell not?

I’ve always thought, when I bothered to think about it, that the Arcade Society differences between Asia and America were rather odd. Why should they be so popular there, and not here? There are definitely cultural differences in the approach to console ownership. In America, ownin your home console is sort of the standard, and from my understanding this isn’t the case in most of Asia (definitely not where I’ve been).

I can't remember the last time I saw an Arcade in America that wasn't populated primarily by children.

However, there is just something you get from an Arcade that you can’t get while sitting at home and playing against “XXSefirothX23” in a profanity filled match of Call of Duty.

Now, this Arcade that I was in specifically was primarily what I would call carnival games. Skeeball and the like. You can bet your ass I don’t play Skeeball, so after some thorough searching, and a few rounds of Time Crisis 3, I found what I had been looking for.

A Street Fightr Alpha 2 console. All alone, not even in a designated “Fighting Game Section” there it was, and I jumped on that. Playing a few rounds against my friends. Everything was good. I own Street Fighter 2, and Street Fighter 4, on console and have a fight stick or two, so that gave me the advantage over my comrades, but then this happened:

Shit just got real...

I panicked.  An asian guy had just come up, said nothing, and slammed a quarter down on the console. Mind you these machines don’t even take quarters anymore, they take debit cards. This was a purely ritualistic way of saying: “It’s on”.

I was already locked in from the previous round as Chun Li. You’ve got to understand that the “strongest woman in the world” and I have a rich history. She was my fighter of choice in Street Fighter 2, Third Strike, and Street Fighter 4. You’ve also got to understand that while I’m familiar with things like Cross Ups, Tech Throws, and mixing up my high-low game, I’m woefully ignorant of specific match ups, frame advantages, and complex combos. Basically, this was pretty intimidating.

Basically what I'm saying is: she carries me.

Up until now, this story could have involved me physically sitting on my couch playing over the PSN or something. My opponent and I hadn’t said anything to one another, and we were about to start round 1. Despite the fact that the feelings were totally different, one could still say: “Well, you don’t need to go to an arcade to get that feeling”.

Then something happened though. In a match that went 3 rounds, I won. This stranger next to me let out and aggravated sigh, but then turned to me, looked me in the eye, and said “Good game, man.” and shook my hand. This was a competition between gentlemen and I had come out as the victor.

After 7 more opponents, I retired to give someone else a go. I wasn’t strictly following the Arcade Code where”you win, you fight next round”. Depriving someone of the chance to beat you isn’t fair to them, after all. However, there were young children waiting in line, and I felt their need to experience a good round of Street Fighter was greater than my own. Plus, there weren’t any new  challengers.

Those 15-20 minutes made my night. Competing against real people, in the same room, was great. It was head and shoulders above getting yelled at by some kid over the Internet. Everyone was civil and respectful, but you could see it in their face that they wanted to win. In this guy’s opinion, we should see more arcades. Anything competitive can really benefit by having your opponent right there next to you. So if you’re too young to have really experienced a good Arcade throw down, I implore you, go find an Arcade near you, and start challenging random strangers. You might even walk away with a few new friends.

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About The Author
William Harmon
William Harmon
William started gaming with Super Mario on the NES, and hasn't stopped since. He has experience playing almost all genres, across almost every platform, but today does most of his gaming on the PS3 and PC. William believes that the best games get you completely lost in them, where you play for the experience of being immersed in another world.