Have you been consoled?

Published: August 11, 2012
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If it hadn't been for Duck Hunt, Pac Man, Street Fighter II, Mortal Combat and Grand Prix you would have never known the joy of playing in the heat of competition. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

If it hadn't been for Duck Hunt, Pac Man, Street Fighter II, Mortal Combat and Grand Prix you would have never known the joy of playing in the heat of competition. PHOTO: FILE If it hadn't been for Duck Hunt, Pac Man, Street Fighter II, Mortal Combat and Grand Prix you would have never known the joy of playing in the heat of competition. PHOTO: PUBLICITY If it hadn't been for Duck Hunt, Pac Man, Street Fighter II, Mortal Combat and Grand Prix you would have never known the joy of playing in the heat of competition. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

For some Mario was short. For others, he was short only in height and not in ambition. Have you ever met a guy that could jump from one platform to the next, picking up golden coins only to land right on top of the nifty Koopas Troopas, eventually squishing them? I hadn’t. But, it wasn’t that which kept me coming back for another game with a bag of coins in my hands and a slightly loopy grin.

It was the sight of those huge arcade box machines that made the place around them come alive. The character-themed art, the glimmering lights, the score that glared back in red and eventually, you in control (even if it was just for fifteen minutes or till you ran out of coins) that made the entire experience of playing a game so much more enlivening.

Just the fact that you could run out of tries made everything appear deadly and real. The steel ball had to be kept away from the pinball drain. With the sound of flippers going mad, the moment intense and the voices in your head entertaining, like nothing else mattered.

If it hadn’t been for Duck Hunt, Pac Man, Street Fighter II, Mortal kombat and Grand Prix you would have never known the joy of playing in the heat of competition, knocking an opponent out , having the onlookers cheer for you and then taking home the experience of having owned the moment. Sometimes your enthusiasm would challenge the surrounding crowd, inviting them to a game while some would just smile and take their cowardice to a different game. You could have scoffed at the people for having candies all you liked, but even those multi-coloured wrappers being manoeuvred by those claw cranes could take anyone in for a coin or two.

Indeed, being part of an era that saw the arcade is a feeling that few can thwart.

The advent of newer gaming consoles not only changed gaming habits but also took away an entire culture. A culture where people gathered around, applauded and jeered, commented and worried and at the end of the day had as much fun watching as playing a game.

Sure, you could now take a game wherever you wanted, drown out the voices of your relatives in a wedding, play the game for as many times as you liked without the pressure and not spend a penny more but did it trump the experience of playing in an arcade? It would never be able to, for the thrill, the animated advice and the pats on the back are some things that can never be brought home.

So, the question to ask yourself then is: Are you playing a game for the experience or are you playing a game because it’s convenient?

Read more by Riffat here, or follow her on Twitter @RiffyR

Riffat Rashid

Riffat Rashid

The author is currently a Media Science student at SZABIST. A literature, food and art enthusiast. She tweets here twitter.com/RiffyR

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Komal

    Excellent piece I must say! Recommend

  • Saad

    I never knew pakistani girls went to the “gaming zones” and buy coins and play such games :D
    Nice piece..

    -fifa addict!Recommend

  • stinkyloveserum

    There are grown men who have basements equipped with enormous plasmas and surround sound where the whole gang (10 to 20 people) gather almost every night to play these games. Sure this something only the elite class can afford to do but hey, the blog IS posted on ET, right? (joke)

    The point is, the arcade culture is as dead as you want it to be.

    Oh and by the way, try going to Shadman and other such areas and you’ll surely find an arcade or two there.Recommend

  • SpellCheck

    *Mortal Kombat.Recommend

  • ThroneOfThorns

    Good to see a blog about gaming here. I think the good ol’ days of Arcade were cool, and it still brings back memories when I see a Tekken machine at places sometimes. But the fact is that gaming has really evolved in terms of graphics and other advancements, and it is no longer financially feasible for arcade centres to keep purchasing better machines with the whole coins thing. The arcade lifestyle has died out the world over, and people now prefer gaming on consoles or their PC’s/laptops.
    I don’t think our elite class will go there, however there could be a case for the the younger and less privileged lot going to these places to get their entertainment fix. But probably the revenue stream coming in from them would be too less to sustain the business. Interesting idea though for any entrepreneur to evaluate.Recommend

  • Jamil

    We all passed this phase of playing Mario bros and other Mario versions, i still remember that few years back i was playing Mario bros in my room when the sudden electricity short in my areas erased all the 14 stages which i cleared :(Recommend