Welcome to the Colosseum. Again.

Ah, the arcade, and the games in the arcade. I walked for twenty minutes, but it is now worth it. The lights, the sounds, the intensity of individuals hunched to their ta-

SHOOT THE ZOMBIE!

-sks. All of the gamers present test their individual strength and ability against the machines, waging their bat-

OH, GOD, HOLY CRAP, MY LAST HEALTH POINT!

-tles against innumerable virtual foes, pushing for that last thou-

POWER-UP!

-sand points to take the high score, cementing their place in the rec-

HE GOT ME?! THE BUGGER GOT ME?!

-ords…until a superior gamer comes along.

For me, more than any other type of game, an arcade game emphasizes the competition between gamers within the games. Each battle against the machine earns a score; each score is compared to other scores. We are locked into the competition as soon as we play, and we compete because we choose to complete. We long to prove ourselves to the world, or at least to our region, or even simply to a few friends. People long for recognition and the arcade games provide that.

I play Halo 3 with friends from time to time. We run the campaign together on occasion, and sometimes we run the multiplayer modes. We can obliterate each other for hours, but there isn’t much of a lasting record besides easily-forgotten taunts, and they are ALWAYS forgotten by the time everyone gets home.

I play Ranger Mission in an arcade twenty minutes from my house from time to time. I teamed up in the co-op mode with a friend, Chris Myers, and with our combined virtual marksmanship talents, we earned the third-highest posted score. Two other groups have reclaimed slots above us, so we’re holding the fifth slot now. I think the only way to adequately state the way arcade games affect me in comparison to console games is to say that, while I will play Halo 3 for enjoyment with friends, I plan to hop back to that arcade with Chris and see about taking that score back. There is enjoyment, there is competition, and they aren’t necessarily exclusive concepts, but we’re going to take that score back, even if we have to walk through a river of spilled quarters and slain gamers to do it.

 

– Breon Guarino

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