The Desolate Arcade
Welcome back everyone! So, what does an arcade have to do with composition you ask? Well, I guess it all boils down to a matter of choice. Please hear me out…
My friends and I recently went to the local place of entertainment called “Revolutions” over in Bethlahem, PA. I had heard good things about it before I went. I walked in, and it was leagues ahead of any bowling alley/arcade I had been to in a while. There were huge wall sized screens at the end of each lane projecting all the music videos and sports media that any true fanatic could handle. There were nice couches by the lane with cocktail service, and even the shoes weren’t as dorky looking compared to when I was a kid. This place was really looking up. Technology had done it’s thing and made a unique experience for everyone. If the bowling alley was this hip, surely the arcade was just as impressive…right?
Our group got upstairs and there were several empty machines. A few scattered kids running around, but for the most part it was us and the crickets in the corner. Why was it so empty? It was Friday night, this place should be full of kids popping in their quarters and pounding the buttons as hard and fast as they can. At least that’s what it was like when I was growing up.
So I walked to the front, got a plastic card with credit so I could swipe each game and start playing. Wait a sec, no coins, no tokens? No banging on the machine to make the quarter fall properly? Ok, we’ll give this a try. I swiped the card and the game started up like usual.
I remember playing a racing game…luckily I got first place. Ok, time for the next level! The screen loaded digital tickets to my account while I was waiting. Wait a sec, no real tickets? Ok, I guess that makes sense…quicker to count and what not.
Now I’m ready to continue on my winning streak and the screen reads “Insert credit”. Wait a sec, what??! I just got first place, don’t I get to continue like I did back when I was a kid. Play till you die, then you have 10 seconds to insert another quarter and continue right? No. All it did was give me digital tickets and say “next!” I didn’t even get to enter my initials. Where’s the sense of competition and challenge. The levels should progress and get harder and harder. Where’s the chance to build up skill and bragging rights for the top score? Where’s the fun?
I played another game, doodle jump, which is an iPhone app of all things. I have the app but never played it on a big screen. I was curious to see how high I could get without dying, just as I do in the app. But wait a sec. I just reached the top…what’s going on here??! The same thing happened. I didn’t die, I reached the top successfully, I got digital tickets and game over with no initials, no competition, nothing; just that feeling of being robbed, and stupid digital tickets.
Ok, the payoff must be in spending the tickets. It’s gotta be. Everything else was a letdown, so they wouldn’t fail me now. These prizes must be flat screen tv’s, cars, or trips to Europe right?
Well, we got to the counter and I saw something that was the only thing they kept the same during my childhood. The cheap, worthless toys and stale candy. I played these boring games for this? This is my prize? No thanks, and I won’t be back anytime soon!
Why couldn’t they give me a choice? On the screen, it should read “would you like to be a quitter and trade in your chance of being a winner for some stale candy, or are you going to give it your all and risk everything to be a leader amongst your peers?” This may be too much to ask, but it would be closer to the choices I had during my childhood. The fun and excitement of challenging your peers and others, on one quarter, survival of the fittest through skill, practice, and focus…they were all gone.
This arcade had taken away the magic of the arcade which explains why it was so unremarkable and so desolate. This is not the case for your artwork. As of now, you have a choice. You can learn techniques, skills, and strive for success amongst your peers or the prestigious artists of the past. Don’t settle for the second rate. Put your initials on the scoreboard with other masters. Just reading this means you have stumbled upon something that has the potential to ignite your art with the same power found in all masterpieces.
Killer Instinct, a revolutionary game that came out during my childhood. I couldn’t get enough of this one. People would put their quarters up on the screen to reserve their spot in line.