Finding My Place in the Gaming World: Is There a Place for an Arcade Today?

This is sort of the journal entry of a soul searching individual. You see, I have no idea what I should do with the rest of my life as far as a job goes. I'm happily married, and have a beautiful daughter, but keeping the bills paid has become more and more an exercise in repetition. It's come to the point that I've decided I need to find something I enjoy doing, instead of just doing whatever comes along. My only jumping off point in this search, is my love of video games.

The world of video games is a big beast though, so where do I fit? Since I was little, I loved writing. I would create characters and tell stories of their adventures, I would even plot out and write sequels to my favorite games (not the perverted kinds). Around high school that all died down, but now I wonder if I could find a place in the struggling video game journalism field. It's the reason this whole website exists actually, so that I can get as much practice writing as possible and maybe get noticed while doing so.

Whether or not that pans out, there's another side of games that I want to explore. My family has the small business owner spark running all through it. From my fathers athletic store, to my uncles men's clothing store, to their fathers painting business, the Young's have always tried their hand at owning businesses. I definitely have that spark, and in searching for a business that I would want to run, I thought of video games.

My small town has very little to do in it, in fact most Saturday nights during high school were spent hanging out in 24 hour gas stations for my friends and I. If you weren't uncool like us though, you drank somewhere, or did worse. I would love to combine my fondness for video games, with a business that might give kids in my town a place to hangout, and an arcade is my best idea to do that. The only question is, can an arcade thrive in this day and age?

Before I got married and my income was still expendable, I got right to work achieving this dream. I hopped on eBay and before long I had a coin-op pool table and 4 arcades, Space Invaders Part II housed in a Space Invaders Deluxe machine, Captain America stuffed into a generic 2 player cabinet, a 1970's OXO pinball, and the unique but failed experiment that was Hyperball, a blend of video game and pinball that I can't get enough of.

But now I'm forced to pay bills instead of buy new machines, so the next step is a much harder one to make. I need to go back to school, as well as start searching for a better paying job that affords me some amount of extra income, and once I have that to fall back on, dive in head first by getting a loan to get a ton more machines and a building for them to go. I'm just not sure if I can take that step with the sinking feeling that it will ultimately fail.

I could bail out now and just sell Captain America on eBay and OXO to my dad (he's a nut for pinball machines of that era), and then keep the others for myself, but I'll always kick myself for not trying. So its do or die time. I don't know how it will work out, but I have to at least try. Let's just hope my town appreciates me trying to keep their kids out of trouble, and supports it.

Getting in Shape

In case you don't follow the blog I started with several other people, the one about various forms of geeky media like video games and movies, I thought I'd post this here. I've been attempting to lose weight for over 30 days now, by playing the recently released EA Sports Active game for the Wii. This is my 30th day post, involving my final results and a summary of what I thought of the game. Since posting this, I've switched over to going for morning runs instead of playing the game. Eventually I hope to get down around 200 pounds.

Start Weight: 248.5
End Weight: 230
Total Weight Loss: 18.5 pounds

So that's it, I've made it to the end. I must have messed up my calculations in there at some point because I thought I was at 19 pounds. It might be a little weird though because the 230 weigh in was done after being up all night working and during the week I always weighed myself in the morning. I think there's a difference in your weight when you first wake up but I don't know exactly what it is.

Now, let's break down the game with a nice, convenient list of the good and bad, because everyone loves lists.

The Good

  • Takes what Wii Fit started to the next level: Wii Fit proved that people would buy fitness games, unfortunately it was extremely flawed. EA Sports Active helps take this blossoming genre the next step by fixing many of the things that Wii Fit did wrong.

  • Workout is strung together: One of the most annoying things Wii Fit did was kick you back to the menu after every activity. Not only did this break up the flow of your workout but it left you to decide what to do next, and when people are given the choice they probably won't choose the tough exercises very often. Active makes up its own routine for you, which can be tweaked, so that it can concentrate on different parts of the body and keep your workout moving along and your heart rate up.

  • Doesn't punish or scold you: The last thing I want my video games to do is to yell at me for being lazy when I've been too swamped to get in an exercise. Several days during my 30 day challenge we had to do hay, meaning I got plenty of workout tossing and stacking hundreds of heavy bales. When I returned to Active the next day, it was nice to see that it had simply counted my missed day as a rest day and let me get back onto my schedule without any problems.

The Bad

  • Janky Wii controls: You can't really fault the games very much for this type of stuff on the Wii. It can still be frustrating when the game has to stop you if it didn't read that you had lifted your arm because the Wiimote or Nunchuk were facing the wrong way, or you moved it too fast. Perhaps Motion Plus will fix issues like this in the future.

  • Poor quality equipment: The pack-in accessories for this game are some of the worst I've ever seen. My leg strap ripped in the first few days and only held together because of the edging, and reports are rampant of broken resistance bands. Even if the resistance band doesn't rip, its the flimsiest thing I've ever seen and provides almost no actual resistance without folding it over a ton to try to make it shorter.

  • Could make better use of the balance board: The balance board seems tacked on. I imagine they were trying to separate their game from Wii Fit in consumers minds so that people wouldn't think they needed a balance board to play it. Still, the activities that actually allow the board offer little to no extra benefit from using it.

I hope that the fitness genre keeps improving. Active comes much closer to my ideal fitness game, but it could do so much more. I want a game that not only caters to already fitness conscious people, but to those who haven't exercised in years. You could allow the game to offer up advice on eating habits, calorie intake, stretches, and a slew of other things so that those who know nothing about being active can have help getting into a healthy lifestyle.

It was daunting for me to adjust my eating habits as I didn't have any experience with dieting. I wasn't a fat kid, I have just gained weight slowly over the last 8 or 9 years since I quit cross country after my freshman year of high school. It would have been a much easier transition if Active was the trainer to help me through it.

Like I said though, EA Sports Active is a huge step in the direction of how I want to see fitness games go, and given that its only the second major release in the genre (unless you count that EyeToy fitness game) that's impressive. It has been the first step on my way to getting back in shape, I now have the confidence to get outside for morning runs which I will probably do from now on instead of playing the game. Still, it's nice to have around in case there's a rainy or muggy day and I want to stay inside to exercise. Instead of doing it on a boring, monotonous machine I can play Active. So while I may have sounded harsh against it sometimes, I do think it's the best game out there right now for getting into shape, and would recommend it to anyone who's looking to do that.

Retroactively Follow my Saga:

Random Updates

I haven't updated here in a long time so here are some random tidbits. Unfortunately since our external hard drive has crapped out with all of our stuff on it we have no room to unload recent pictures, so I can't post any.

Emmy has grown extremely fond of the word "no", and says it for pretty much everything. When you try to give her a kiss and she doesn't want one she'll yell no and turn away. When you try to take something away from her she'll yell no and run away with it. She doesn't always yell it though, she's also mastered the sweet and innocent way of saying it that almost makes you want to give in.

She's also obsessed with the "Where'd it go?" game, which is hiding anything and then asking where'd it go over and over, then pulling it out and laughing hysterically. Her version of where'd it go is more like ere'd ee go however, and her favorite where'd it go item to hide is the television, meaning she'll turn it off on us and then stand there asking us where it went.

She enjoys watching us play EA Sports Active and grabs another one of the wii remotes to start lifting up and down along with us. I've been working on cleaning out a room for her to eventually move into and have a place to keep half of her toys as they are taking over the living room. That's about it for now. Maybe I'll have a montage of pictures at some point soon as eventually I'm just going to buy a new hard drive.