Reflections on Quarters

Being my first visit to an actual video arcade, I did not know what to expect from Quarters. Previously, I’d only been to the cynical ones in amusement parks.

I’ll admit, I was highly unimpressed when I first entered Quarters. Directly in front of me- an open restroom door. After slogging through the muddy parking lot to get there, the last thing I wanted to see was a urinal of dubious quality. But such a bad beginning left me with nowhere to go but up.

The food and drinks were nice, but are neither the point of this post, nor the excursion in general.

The gameplay was not what I expected.

I was so used to playing touchscreen games using only my fingers that I was unprepared for the amount of physical force needed to manipulate the arcade controls. Instead of joysticks and buttons made to be easily depressable, these controls were “solid”- resisting my every move. I found my wrists getting tired after just an hour of gaming, something that had never happened before, not even in marathon Starcraft sessions. Like the Wii, these consoles add a physical interaction component to gameplay.

During gameplay, I also found myself swiftly disabused of several preconceived notions. Foremost was the idea from I don’t know where that in Space Invaders clones movement was one dimensional- I did not realized that you could move around the entire screen until far too many tokens had been lost.

On average, each token afforded me 3 lives. After depleting my tokens, I would have to go obtain more. But as we were provisioned with unlimited tokens, this was less of a drain than a hassle. Throughout my time at Quarters, I found this to  have a large affect on my playing style. With unlimited resources, I could afford to take risks, to experiment, to have fun at the arcade without worrying about cost. However, on the flip side, there was also less incentive for me to get good at a game. With unlimited tokens I could continuously feed tokens to continue progress instead of maximizing the value from one play-through.

But for all that, I had fun. And that was the point of this trip, right?

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