Alone Together

Being of a Certain AARP-Qualified Age, we remember Pong. We remember the night it showed up at Charlie’s Pool Hall on Willamette, everybody gathered around it like the crowd watching the Close Encounters Mothership land: Oooooooooh. We also remember, not that many years later, being stoned beyond belief and killing at Centipede, after which we gave up on videogames forever, because really, once you’ve achieved satori, there’s no going back.

So yeah, we remember the Golden Age of video arcades. And what we remember doesn’t sound like this:

The idea here, according to the OAK-U-TRON’s designers, is to capture the feel of the arcade era, when gaming was an inherently social venture.

If by “social” you mean that we all hung out at Charlie’s on weekend evenings, sure. But if you’re trying to suggest that it was a cooperative atmosphere, you never bore the brunt of Karl’s glee when he whipped yer ass at Breakout. Videogames were just a new way to fail before your peers.

The “OAK-U-TRON” is an arcade-style game for the Occupy crowd. But to win, you have to work with your opponent partner, which takes all the fun out of it. Even worse, you’re supposed to learn from the experience:

“The game [marries] the idea of the social movement where everyone who’s playing contributes to the overall success of everyone,” says Anthropy. “Someone who’s maybe not super good at videogames might only get to an early switch, but they’ll still stay behind and hold that switch and help all future players to still be contributing something that’s significant.”

If we might regress for a moment: Fuck that. If we’re being held back by an idiot at the next controller, we’re not going to enjoy the game for long. Or, more likely, if we’re the idiot holding somebody else back, we’re not going to be welcome to play another round.

Which is worse than losing, really. Being a dependable loser meant we could still play. Humiliation is better than ostracism.

But to be fair, the gameplay’s not the thing. The OAK-U-TRON’s killer feature is that it’s portable — something to, um, occupy the groundlings during those long Occupy days. Only we have an issue with that, too. Because as we learned the night we became One with Centipede, the only way to win a videogame is to tune out the world. And whatever you call that, it’s anything but social.

Occupy Rolls Out Its Most Subversive Tech: A Mobile Arcade Game for the 99% [Wired]

I’m like you, as I left the arcade once I had my fill of Galaga and Ms. Pac Man. However, does this mean we’re out of touch with video gaming right now, especially since it’s moved out of the arcade and into the living room? I do know that a lot of first-person shooter games have multi-player modes where you can either work together or in opposition.

“Vosotros chingaís”? That sounds pretty high society for a Spanish cuss word.

does this mean i can buy/sell pot at this new social venture like in the arcade at the mall back in the day? ours was next to the head shop too and both were the first two stores on the left after the entrance. quite convenient. and the mall’s pizza shop that sold slices also sold beer to underage kids. we had it made with rush, boston, led zep, and skynyrd providing the soundtrack.

@matador1015: My high school Spanish teachers (one with a horrendous Southern accent, the other from Mexico) never taught us the vosotros branch of conjugation, telling us Texas kids that it was “something they only do in Spain” and that we should only use ustedes and to think of ustedes as “the y’all tense of Spanish.” True quote. Emblematic of my secondary education (I shared last week about my JFK assassination conspiracy theory American History teacher), it’s a wonder I can talk and write in complete sentences given that educational underpinning.

Glad I could inspire the tweet of the day, Nojo….

@SanFranLefty: i know how you feel. that’s just more evidence texas and tennessee are inbred cousins. luckily, my mom was a strict english teacher and a hard core anglophile. she literally beat the hillbilly out of my brother and I, thankfully.

@SanFranLefty: No worries. I learned Spanish from native Ticos in preparation for Peace Corps duty north of there, and they said “nobody uses ‘vos’ where you’re going ” – and as it turns out, of course, everybody does, once you get to know them.

@matador1015: To use “chingais”, it would have to be a group of people you know really, really well that you’re trying to piss off real quick.

I have to agree as a “don’t play as much as I used to” gamer nerd. It’s not really a social activity.

I watched my (soon-to-be-ex) housemate leave for the weekend for 24 hour/48 hour game marathons where 20-30 people would be jammed into a house playing Call of Duty or Team Fortress or Quake or whatever game the kids are into these days. I was invited but never went as I like hanging out with people who bathe and where women are. It was a sausage fest except for the 1 or 2 females who might show up. I sometimes wonder if the housemate expected to meet his “one” there… which is unpossible when you have 18-20 other guys with the same awkward pickup skills all after her.

Video games destroyed pinball. That is all I have to say on the subject. Other than there is a machine in the lobby of the multiplex in downtown Phoenix that has my initials on it. I became the pinball king.

Above remarks do not, of course, apply to Angry Birds. Or Zuma’s Revenge. You know what’s sad? When a new level for Angry Birds is released and you ace it the same day. That’s what’s sad. All that’s left to do is to try to up your scores. One of the happiest days of my life was getting through Challenge in Zuma and releasing the other levels. Come to think of it that’s pretty sad, too.

Note to self: Get a life, dude.

@matador1015: I agree about contemporary gaming, but the premise of the designers is that the new toy recalls the more “social” era of arcades. And while I couldn’t track down their ages, from Wired’s photo I suspect they’re all under 30. So they’re just idealizing something they don’t know about — what I used to call dumpster-diving into my past.

@Benedick: Video games destroyed pinball.

Guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I watched videogames assimilate all the pinball machines at Charlie’s.

Wow, those Chinese slave laborers are fast…

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@Benedick: pinball was always and still is my favorite indoor sport. fireball 2 and star wars are my favorite machines.

@nojo: Write a report after you field test it.

@jwmcsame: . @Benedick: there’s a pretty realistic pinball app for the iPhad. Sadly no “tilt” function.

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