The Quarters: Gaming as a Shared Experience

I went into this experience with a basic idea of what to expect. I’ve been to the Quarters several times before, so I knew the ground rules.

I remember the first time I heard there was an arcade bar in the area, I was SO EXCITED. Even though I’m 21, I’m generally not-enthused by the bar scene. Paying a lot of money to sit around and sip overpriced drinks isn’t really for me. Paying a fair amount of money to play old-school arcade games while sipping overpriced drinks though? Sign me up.

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Drinks just taste better when drunk between respawns.

I’ve gone a few times with different friends, and each time was quite similar. We get there, ooh and ahh at the décor and the games and the vegetarian mac&cheese hot dogs (!!!), and then eat and drink for a bit. We play some solo games, but a lot of the time is spent at the multiplayer games, particularly The Simpsons and Gauntlet. Schmitty had a fun post about The Simpsons, so check that out if you’re interested. Gauntlet is a 4-player old-school adventure game. It’s really fun, especially if, like me, you have someone in your party who’s never played video games before. Lots of quarters were eaten by Gauntlet.

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So in my previous Quarters encounters, it’s really been all about the community experiences. (That and Millipede. I will ignore my own mother when Millipede frees up.) My friends and I eat and drink together and focus on multiplayer games where we can rib each other and maybe get the great satisfaction of achieving a group goal.

This class visit to Quarters was slightly different. I’m not close friends with anyone in my blog group (even though you’re all wonderful!), so instead of heading to a table or to a multiplayer game, I focused on single-player games. It was still a really great experience (probably (definitely) because Millipede was always free), but it wasn’t until the end of the night that I realized I was missing that sense of camaraderie. As some other people have mentioned in their posts, these arcade games are not narratively riveting, nor are the mechanics particularly varied. A lot of the pleasure comes from the shared experience of a game.

This was a really interesting realization for me. As a consumer of almost exclusively single-player games, I don’t experience that lack of companionship while I play on my computer. Of course I love games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, but I don’t feel that I miss the experience of these games while I’m playing Mass Effect.

However, while writing this post I had the realization that even while I am playing single-player games, I love having another person in the room to talk to about it. Sometimes it’s necessary, like when I play Last of Us or Walking Dead (someone has to have the unfortunate job of convincing me that scary news articles aren’t actually harbingers of the zombie apocalypse). Sometimes, though, it’s just so that I can talk about what’s happening. This isn’t to say I CAN’T enjoy a single-player game if I play it alone. I just feel that it adds another dimension when I play with someone else in the room. Someone I can react with, someone I can explain my “HOLY SHIT!” to, someone in this world to receive and validate the experience I am having in another world.

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Look how (weirdly?) happy he is at his friend’s triumph.

At Quarters, playing multiplayer arcade games felt communal. My friends and I shared in the experience of playing the games and had the opportunity to make fun of each other when we were terrible. Even when we went our separate ways to play single-player games, we would periodically come back together to share stories of our triumphs and failures. Since I’m an unfortunately introverted person, I didn’t have this same level of desire to share with my classmates. As a result, my experience was not as fun as it has been previously.

0 thoughts on “The Quarters: Gaming as a Shared Experience

  1. As a fellow introvert, I definitely agree with the Quarters experience being a little lacking in fun.
    It’s interesting to me what you’re saying about single-player games. For me, gaming is almost always a solitary experience. I like just being alone with some characters (and not have to worry about anyone seeing me fail). I have gamed with friends around (taking turns with a friend who’s a better gamer than me) and that’s fun, but for me gaming alone is just as fun. That’s cool that you’ve made it a group experience, though!

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