Patrolling the Moon isn’t a Job, it’s a Lifestyle

The field trip to the Quarters was very interesting, in part because of something MP mentioned in class last week: that it’s fascinating to see what we do and how we interact in an entirely different environment. While I could write a whole blog post about that, I think I want to talk about something more videogame oriented for once.

After arriving at the Quarters, my friends and I leapt from multiplayer game to multiplayer game. Some were cooperative, some were competitive, some were an odd mix, and one was broken. However, the star of the show was a 2-player game called Moon Patrol. It took us a while to figure out that the 2-player aspect revolved around the idea of alternating turns. First I would play a round, then Connor would, and the goal is to see who can get the farthest.

We ignored that entirely. Instead, we ran it as a one player game, with me controlling the speed and jumping of our agile moon-patrolling-buggie, and Connor controlling the guns. While I had played arcade games before on many occasions, I don’t think I had ever become this immersed with one. Previously I had regarded them as an entertaining relic, but just that. Entertaining. Casual. Not serious, and not capable of actually making you care.

I don’t think we ever took Moon Patrol seriously, per se, but we definitely cared a lot about it. We found ourselves shouting at each other when one of us messed up – and despite what Connor may tell you, it was almost always his fault. And, in order to keep out progress, we had to fit a coin into the machine during a 10-second timer each time we died.

And we died. A lot. (RE: Above, Connor’s fault). After 20 or so minutes of play we discovered ourselves running out of coins, and only three fifths of the way through the game. So I found myself dashing around the room in our ten-second timers, begging coins off of friends and friends’ friends because we didn’t have time to ask at the bar for a new cup of coins.

The physical limitation of the game, the fact that it required something that wasn’t programmed into the game to run, struck me in a few different ways. First, had it been quarters we were putting into the machine, we probably would have spent a good $5 to $10 on a half-hour of gaming. That brings in questions of class and accessibility to arcade games, which are only somewhat relieved by modern conditions (while constant payments at arcades are no longer a thing, you still need an expensive console or an also-expensive powerful computer to play today’s games).

And second, the addition of this physical aspect – even though I’m sure the designers didn’t expect their players to have to run back and forth in the crowded arcade to get their tokens – made the game considerably more fun and considerably more real for me. That’s just what I’ve been thinking about in the days since that field trip.

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