My partner once remarked that I was raised by video games. That’s an exaggeration but, well, not by too much.
I was the child of divorced parents. As a kid, I – along with my brothers – saw my dad every fortnight. At the time, my dad lived in the city. On those weekends of visiting dad, he used to take me and my brothers to video game arcades in the city and leave us there while he hung out with his friends in Chinatown. Now, you might argue that that was poor parenting, but, nonetheless, I loved it. Galaga, Double Dragon, Gauntlet… these were some of my favourite arcade games back then. I also loved the spontaneous companionship of playing multi-player games with whoever happened to join you on a machine. It didn’t matter that I was so young – as well as my brothers, my gaming companions were of any age and it seemed that who I was barely mattered. Today, I still love gaming, although I rarely go to arcades.
A couple of days ago, I was in the Osu Kannon area of Nagoya. There are manga and anime shops here, a few maid cafes and other otaku delights. I happened upon a video gaming arcade. It was kind of rundown and grimy and smoky, and it was filled with the sounds of bleepy, blare-y gaming. Basically, it was my kind of place:
It really reminded me of those video arcades in Melbourne that I hung out in back in the 80s. Some of the games even looked pretty old too. I played a couple of games – a Streetfighter-style game and a Mobile Suit Gundam game (excuse my bad phone camerawork) and had a great time:
On the screen in the above photo, it says “Insert coin(s)”. You have no idea how evocative that particular phrase is to me – that, and the best gaming verb of all: “Start.”