Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge: A

A = Arcade

  When going to the mall, my father and I have a implicit understanding.  I would be on my best behavior, not knocking over fragile store goods, throwing ear-piercing tantrums, and what not, provided that he would give me five dollars.  The money was not for a toy or even for ice cream; it was for the arcade.  The arcade was a place of wonder for me.  The cacophony of blinking screens was the main source of illumination, overpowering the few rays of sunlight that sporadically managed to sneak in.  The soundtrack was a chaotic landscape of chip-tuned bleeps, all crying for tokens.  I can't even begin to count the hours, or the money, that I spent in that arcade growing up.  The cabinets weren't just about play, but about the foundations of my life.  My early ideas of driving came from Out Run.  Afterburner taught me that you can get out of almost any sticky situation with a good barrel roll.  Waiting in line to play Street Fighter II was an exercise in patience.  Knights of the Round taught me all about collaboration and team work. During those years I didn't care that the games were built around the goal of taking my money.  It was a fair exchange; five buck allowed me to escape a bit, to take on another role, and ultimately to do what I could never really do in real life, to save the day.  The mall arcade is all but gone these days. If the bookstore was the heart of the mall, the arcade was its prefrontal cortex, and sadly today's mall lacks both.  While cabinets still exist today, their surrounded by other games that are more of the carnival variety in places that celebrate pizza and rodents.  Gaming at home, while great, is just not the same.  The arcade was our church where we celebrated our credo "Just one more turn," and while we gamers still pray today, we play alone.