Where will gaming go next?

By Carly Vaughn

In what has to be the best idea ever, Nashville has a new classic-gaming-themed bar/restaurant called Two Bits. It’s right on Demonbreun Hill and I had no idea it was there until this weekend. As a concept, it’s one I’ve seen before. There’s a bar called Penn Social in Washington DC with a similar kind of idea, but that one is mostly focused on board games or games like shuffleboard or cornhole.

Two Bits has some really great classic arcade games, most notably Donkey Kong Jr. which I failed at miserably. There’s also a Ms. Pacman and a Space Invaders machine, along with some newer games like Mortal Kombat II (which I was great at). All of these games are free to play, so I got to try my hand at Donkey Kong Jr. over and over without having to feed in any quarters. But the best part were the old gaming systems they had hooked up to TVs hung over the booths in the back. They had an old N64 with Super Smash Brothers and it was amazing to play with friends like I had when I was younger.

Not only was this a really fun place to hang out and eat fried pickles, I think it speaks to the fact that gaming, even arcade gaming, is not an exclusive culture anymore. It’s being coopted by everyone from t-shirt designers to bars, and I wonder if the widening of the barrier to entry is kind of scary to anyone really engrossed in gaming culture. If developments like this mean that anyone has access to a game like Donkey Kong Jr., does that make its mastery less impressive? If bars let anyone play games like Super Mario Bros on NES, does that cheapen their cultural value?

We were talking about how there are no really literary gaming novels out there yet last class. But I think that’s going to change soon. As gaming becomes more mainstream and accessible, someone will write that Great American Gaming Novel we’re all waiting for. Until then, head over to Two Bits and enjoy the fruits that are already being harvested from gaming’s increased popularity.

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One thought on “Where will gaming go next?”

  1. I don’t think access has anything to do with lessening impressiveness of mastery; if anything it makes completion more impressive because it means the games are being won by “normal” people who still live functional, social lives. However, this doesn’t mean that some people will be annoyed by Two Bits and similar bars–there’s one in my hometown centered around board & card games; some friends of mine went and were borderline harassed for being what frequenters called “pseudonerds.” Yikes! (See Portlandia clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EMXRAWWiBw)

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