Day 10: Arcade

Day 10: Arcade

I read today that the new “Call of Duty” game made 1 Billion dollars on its first day of sale.

$1,000,000,000.00

That’s incredible. And I’m out of touch with the gaming community enough to not even know if that’s a record. I bet it’s not. I bet there’ve been others that have done even more in their first day.

I remember it being a huge deal when The Dark Knight made $270 million on it’s opening weekend, and this CoD franchise entry makes 1,000x more than than it a *day*. It’s eye opening. It’s already happened, it’s not a thing of the future. Film has utterly and irreversibly been eclipsed by video games. And it totally makes sense to me. Entertainment is about transportation, right? Immersion. The immersive advantage that video games have over their predecessors is vast and complete. And that divide will only get larger.

I never really caught onto the video game wave. I suppose that’s less odd for my generation than it would be for the current. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Atari, Nintendo and Sega were forces to be reckoned with. I still vividly remember trying to convince my mom to buy me an NES standing in the Sears at the Bayshore mall because “Look! It comes pre-loaded with Mario Bros. 3!!!”

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She wasn’t having it though. The closest we ever got to having a gaming console when I was a rug rat was accepting one on loan for one summer when my cousin Jeremy stayed with us. He was four years older than I, the older brother I didn’t have. I’m not sure if she accepted having the Nintendo in our house because he was a teenager, or if she was just being impulsive, but it was glorious. I was already into baseball at the time, and there was a baseball game. Incredibly awkward to control, as so many of those early games were, but it was instantly addicting. I remember walking past the window to the room he was staying in, and seeing his eyes glued to the TV, control pad in-hand. “I’m getting the hang of it,” he’d said the next day. I remember the other game we had was “Little Nemo: The Dream Master”…which was similarly scarce on easy playability and plentiful on exciting visuals. Very Japanese, that game.

Little-Nemo

Other than that, all my encounters with gaming were through my best friend Jadon who lived up the road. HIS parents were the types to give their kids what they wanted. Not so much of all this “TV rots your brain” type attitude. Mostly I remember playing the Mario Bros. games, with a sprinkling here and there of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Battle Toads. BUT…the big big thing that Jadon always had, was on his brithdays, his parents would rent out the local arcade, Sharky’s, and we’d all go as a group and get to play as many games as we wanted for as many lives as we wanted for like 3 hours…AFTER THEY’D CLOSED. It was probably like 10pm to midnight, but I was 10, and that shit was bananas. So cool!

Sharky's Token

Sharky’s Token

I also remember that his dad, Carey, would take us over to one his several cousin’s houses with bags of toilet paper, and we TP their houses. They had a van, and I remember he’d stay in the car and keep it running “so we can make a fast getaway!” Then, we’d go home and they’d put on a scary movie, and I mean, like, legit scary. I was 10 when I saw Robocop, which is just about the most gratuitously violent movie that’s ever been made. Jadon’s birthday parties were epic.

I can’t imagine arcades exist any more, beyond the occasional “retro”/touristy spot. Or your ESPNzone/Dave & Busters, but those places are built to attract chaps like me who want to relive my pre-teen days with a beer in my hand. They’re not for kids. Even the one in Disneyland just looks sad.

And how interesting at how much video games have truly exploded as an industry, way way beyond the Arcade days, and their once-havens have been left behind. Which kind of brings me back to what started this tangent into the past in the first place. Entertainment doesn’t really *ever* go away, does it? It just changes. We may very well be seeing the decline of movie-going as we know it, but there will be something else in its place. That’s the way its always been.

Boom. Even dropped some philosophy.

I love you all, good night.