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.

Listen! (C-Up)

As I sit here contemplating what exactly I find to be my favorite game, few things jump out at me. Of course I could always say something that I found relatively enjoyable that has recently been released like Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I could also say something that constitutes ass-kissing like Lord of the Rings Online (wouldn’t that just be appropriate from me?). But in all honesty it is extremely difficult to choose that one perfect game that balanced joy, fear, excitement, and sadness and organized them so perfectly that Beethoven could hardly match its perfection with his symphonic genius. Then I think I found it.

I was home a few weeks ago, enjoying my family time as usual. We decided to make a day of driving around town and doing a little shopping. Now, of course, no shopping trip is complete without the quick trip to Wal-mart to pick all your family necessities. So, I did what I normally do when we make a trip there, I browsed the electronics section for things to criticize and/or admire. I was walking through the Nintendo section when I stumbled upon the new giant signs exclaiming that the 3DS’s were now only $169.99. I had never used one and I was curious as to what they looked like with the “revolutionary” 3D graphics (Which has definitely not been in use since the 90’s…). So I moseyed on over to the display model, powered it on, clicked on demo, and waited. When the game loaded up I heard a heart-wrenching tune: the intro music for Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

I was torn into pieces. How could I have forgotten such a magnificently poised series as Zelda? When I was young, I owned a Gameboy: Color and I started my Zelda experience on Link to the Past. I always loved the epic story of an unlikely boy/young man who rose from the lowest rank, starting with nothing but a sword and shield to conquer the evils of the lands. Not only did this game evolve with some of the greatest gameplay qualities of the time, but it also held the values of courage, wisdom, and friendship to such high standards. No matter how old I was, I always adored the story line of one of these games: dressing up like Link on Halloween, running around the yard with a plastic sword yelling “Hiyah!”, and practicing the ever important speed boosting technique of shoulder rolls around the house. As I stood and played the first mission inside the Great Deku Tree, an overwhelming sense of nostalgia swept over me and I once again felt as if I was 8, enjoying another round of everyone’s favorite sequence: the Water Temple. If ever there was a game that impacted me, it was Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

[As this will be my last post until after September 11, I would like to take the time to say that my prayers go out to those who lost family or friends on that fateful day 10 years ago. (moment of silence)]

~~D3LTA04, Faithfully devoted to the defeat of Ganondorf [Post 2]

Gaming’s not so bad

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a “gamer”. Ever since I got that N64 for my 5th birthday, I’ve been enthralled by the video game, of any sort of genre. My friends and family have never minded my sometimes hardcore gaming; in fact, I’ve been able to convert a good many of them to my gaming ways (recently my dad beat Mass Effect 1 and 2, after days and days of struggles). I’m one of the vast majority of gamers, one who can effortlessly juggle a social life and academics, all while on a pretty demanding raid schedule. Unfortunately for us gamers, this balanced, moderate way of gaming usually occurs in the background while the common perception of the “gamer” shines in the spotlight; an image of an overweight, socially inept “video-game nerd” is what people seem to associate with the term gamer. Sure, there are those people, the kind you see during media coverage of Comic-Con, or at your own local comic or game conventions. But what people don’t do is judge these gamers beyond their physical appearance; sure, they may not be a perfect 10, or even smell nice, but they’re usually down to earth people who just happen to have a passion for something that’s not quite mainstream.

That’s why I don’t mind admitting I’m a gamer. Sure, it may not be the coolest thing to do, and the vacant looks when I try to explain myself sometimes do get on my nerves, but it’s part of who I am. My family and friends accept me for it, and I’m more than ok with it. Sometimes I wonder what I’d be like if I had never picked up that first game of Mario Kart, or downloaded that WoW trial, but in the end, it helped define me today and I definitely like who I am.

-Spencer Smith, aka Swagstache the Human Captain