This is my first article. I hope you enjoy it. Leave me some positive critique and my next one will be better.
Growing up in the 80's and 90's, I was able to experience the height of video game arcades. Yes I was the annoying 7 year old tag-a-long that was a nuisance to my brother's 15 yr old libido. So it was often that he would give me $5 dollars in quarters to hang out in the arcade while he went to play putt-putt golf with some innocent young victim. By today's standards, someone would have called Child Protective Services, but hey, this was the 80's.
Anyway, this is the history of my of video arcade experience.
So first lets lest talk about Golf n Games. Golf in games was an awesome indoor/ out door putt-putt venue with a huge arcade and bumper boats. In the early to mid 80's, this was the echelon of cool. Here I was exposed to games like
Pac-Man and Ms Pac-Man
I cannot watch Karate Kid or Fast Times at Ridgemont High without remembering this place. There were so many other great games that I have forgotten about. I do however remember they had an awesome putt-putt course and that they were known for getting the newest and best games. I also remember that the place was haunted and many people often saw apparitions late in the evening, towards closing time. Turns out, it was buried on the original site of the town's 1800 "negro cemetery". I guess that can really screw up a nice evening
Anyway that placed closed down sometime around 1990. In 1992-93, Mountasia Golf opened.
I was around 15 yrs old and able to drive or ride with older friends to this amazing homage to arcades and fun zones. Now if you know anything about the Houston area, it is known for its "No Zoning Regulations". This causes everything to be spread out across the city and makes it hard to transition in areas other than downtown. This meant that, even if Mountasia was only 4 miles away, I had to go with a group or borrow my dads busted up, Ford 150 farm truck. This also allowed for a great opportunity for our group of teenage hell raisers to get together. At Mountasia, I was introduced to all sorts of exciting new games. Games like:
There was also a boxing video game that we would play all the time. Cant think of the name, but it was a split screen, head-to-head, dual player mode where two mesh figures would slug it out as my buddy and I rapidly jarred the handle joysticks. Definitely hours of geek fun.
But I was introduced to a lot more at Mountasia than just games. When it rained, we would sneak onto the mountain/ waterfall themed putt-put golf course and played Laser Tag until we got kicked off. Luckily one of the managers was young and cool. I eventually convinced him to join my team and we were allowed to play on Monday nights after closing. Great times! I was also introduced to my first definitive girlfriend at this establishment. I say that because this was where I learned how to flirt and be a young man. I also learned that she could kick my butt in Skeet Ball. We were on and off again for 3 years. Good Times!
At the same era of my life I would spend about three weeks of my summer in San Antonio, visiting my cousin.
S.A. has a totally different feel than Houston. On the north side you have (or at least had), hills and country area. It seemed like everyone had 20 acres of land. This was perfect for all night bonfire parties. Think of the movie Dazed and Confused. That is pretty much how my San Antonio experiences went. We started out at the local arcade called Pachinco's. We played several of the newest Star Wars games, VR games and others. But my favorite at this particular location was an old(er) Street Fighter II Champions Edition.
I loved this particular game because only the locals knew its special secret. See, if you chose Ken or Ryu you were almost unbeatable. You had to hit your opponent first, then you did a spinning jump heel kick while pressing up and back and rapidly hitting the button. This would send you to the other side of the screen and you would hit your opponent from the bottom back. It also instantly defeated your opponent. It was a bugged system but it was a blast. We pissed off a lot of newbies with that trick. Then we went to the bonfire parties where it was good friends, a keg of Shiner or Lonestar beer and a lot beautiful Texas home grown country girls.
So this is my coming of age story and how video arcades seemed to directly or indirectly affect my life. As I watched the industry transition to home consoles, I notice the social aspect of video games fall away. No longer do you go to hang with friends or mingle to plan the evening. Now young kids go to Game Stop to make a transaction, then sit at home for 4 hrs to beat the game. The newer generations are naive to a whole environment that once surrounded these time consuming visual wonders.