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Lucky Wander Boy 172

Posted by timothy
from the itchy-feet dept.
Hello Kitty writes "As far back as 1981, the videogame industry was pulling in more than Hollywood and Vegas combined; that year it raked in $5 billion, and for the most part did so one quarter at a time. So why haven't the arcade games so formative to geek youth (okay, geek 30somethings, young in the glory days of arcade play) gotten their due from the rest of popular culture? Lucky Wander Boy, DB Weiss' debut novel, is a step toward correcting that oversight. It's also a meditation on the bardo (the Buddhist notion of that which lies between the moment of death and the afterlife), on the excesses of the late dot-com era, and on where Pac-Man went in that split-second between disappearing on one side of the screen and reappearing on the other. And oh, yeah, it has a lead character screwed up just like your hysterical older relatives thought you would be if you didn't quit playing those nasty computer games. Bust out the rasterized graphics and Atari cartridges -- it's a party." Hello Kitty's review continues below.
Lucky Wander Boy
author DB Weiss
pages 272
publisher Plume
rating 9
reviewer Hello Kitty
ISBN 0452283949
summary the Big Videogame Chill

It's the mid-90s and Adam Pennyman's got no particular place to go, so he finds himself in a Los Angeles apartment with a cranky soon-to-be-ex girlfriend and a copy of MAME, everyone's favorite game emulator. His collection grows until he feels compelled to document it, or his life as realized through his gaming, in an unpublishable text called the Catalogue of Obscure Entertainments.

Unimpressed, his girlfriend starts edging out of his life just as a chance meeting with a former friend lands Adam a copywriting gig at Portal Entertainment, a dot-com ostensibly in the process of turning various videogame properties into movies. (The real business, of course, involves turning smoke and mirrors into venture cap; alumni of, oh, D*N or El*ctr*m*dia are encouraged to up the dosage of whatever they're taking to quell the flashbacks during the passages describing Portal's office culture.)

But Portal puts Adam within reach of the gamer's Grail: Lucky Wander Boy, a rare and bizarre game created by the reclusive Araki Itachi. Lucky Wander Boy was years ahead of its time, and so intricately coded that no one, no one, ever reached third level. Or have they? Adam nearly did once, long ago, and has been haunted ever since by a memory of gameplay that just couldn't have truly happened... could it? Adam will go far to find out. Very far indeed.

I love me some metaphysical conceits in my fiction, so strictly for the description of the Lucky Wander Boy game I'd rate this book highly. (It doesn't exist. It couldn't exist. I want it to exist. Dammit.) The author's done a fine job capturing a certain kind of thinking that occurs when smart people start reading deeper meaning into their obsessions.

Adam's ruminations on many of the classics (Pac-Man, Microsurgeon, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., et al.) ring player-true -- which is why it's so glorious and scary when he goes off the rails with you right beside him. If you played in the days when primitive graphics and freshly-minuted archetypes made gameplay somehow even more addictive, this book will cause howls of recognition. Best of all, it's well-written and for the most part affectionate to the subculture; be glad this quasi-historical novel was written by the promising Weiss and not by that maiden aunt of yours who wouldn't let you have any more quarters.


You can purchase Lucky Wander Boy from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Lucky Wander Boy

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  • Implausible (Score:5, Funny)

    by tmark (230091) on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:50AM (#5511742)
    so he finds himself in a Los Angeles apartment with a cranky soon-to-be-ex girlfriend and a copy of MAME,

    Right here is where the story would lose me. It is nigh impossible that some nerd with MAME whose mission is to seek out this one mythical video game is going to have a girlfriend in the first place.

    If it were a movie I'd be screaming at the screen.
    • It is nigh impossible that some nerd with MAME [...] is going to have a girlfriend in the first place

      Behold! I give you CmdrTaco [cmdrtaco.net]!

    • by mandrake*rpgdx (650221) on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:28PM (#5512075) Homepage
      God. I have a wife. I have a copy fo MAME. I'm a hard core nerd, my day job is coding z80 ASM for ATM's, my hobby at night is making video games. Yet, I've dated a lot, had a lot of girlfriends, and don't understand this geek steroetype BECAUSE NO ONE I HAVE MET HAS EVER BEEN ONE. And I know alot of nerds.

      God. You know what's unbeleivable? Somebody so stupid they actually would place their suspension of disbleif in something so bad as a stereotype. 1. It's fiction. So suspend away NONE OF IT IS REAL. 2. That would be like saying "God, this cop-buddy comedy with a black man in it isn't racist enough in it's portrayal of a subculture.".

      • ...I think you meant to say non-fucking geek steroetypes.

        Either that or you're thinking of a different one than I am.
      • Yet, I've dated a lot, had a lot of girlfriends, and don't understand this geek steroetype BECAUSE NO ONE I HAVE MET HAS EVER BEEN ONE.

        My God man, no wonder you've never met any stereotypical geeks! There're not going to be at places you MEET people! True geeks avoid social meeting places and if you approach them at work they just mumble something about staplers until you go away and leave them to their coding.

        Want to find some REAL geeks? You need to stay IN more - go on IRC, start a blog. The geek
    • Freaked me out a bit, though. I was in that *same* exact boat myself during the 90's - soon-to-be-gf, life in a dumpy LA apartment, and naught but MAME to keep me company.

      Freakin' introspection...
  • Stop Whining (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) <bittercode@gmail> on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:51AM (#5511748) Homepage Journal
    So why haven't the arcade games so formative to geek youth (okay, geek 30somethings, young in the glory days of arcade play) gotten their due from the rest of popular culture?

    Am I the only one who saw Tron? Last Starfighter? Mario Brothers?

    Would an InSync ballad to Centipede be what you are looking for? Popular culture has been riddled with the games I loved to play. And vice versa. This whining is unseemly.

    • Re:Stop Whining (Score:3, Interesting)

      by coke_dite (643074)
      Q-BERT!!! I used to *love* that cartoon!!! Mario Brothers was a little weird, but still, it was okay, and the PacMan cartoon? Did the author of this review completely MISS the 80s?? Wasn't Sonic originally an arcade game? (or did that only come out in console? I really don't remember). Arcade video games were a HUGE part of early 80s pop culture :) it's all we had to do on Saturdays!

      • sonic was originally a console game, though an arcade game was eventually made with the same perspective as sonic 3d. mame has only recently gotten it emulated, and it still has some graphical glitches.
    • The Last Starfighter [imdb.com] was the first film I ever saw at a cinema.

      I'm hoping it will be out upon DVD sometime soon..

      • DVD [imdb.com] you say?

        p.s. That's a link off of the imdb page that you linked to. In the upper-right, click on DVD...
        • D'oh!

          Thanks for the link .. I actually searched Amazon.co.uk before posting my message and got no matches. It' turns up just fine on Amazon.com.

          *sigh*

    • by Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:14PM (#5511972) Homepage Journal
      I think that video games have penetrated (ha ha, I said "penetrated) popular culture to an extent BUT the inroads haven't led to the assault and basic water-logged state of music and movies. Yes, video games make more money than movies but when you're watching television how often do you see commercials for video games? I hardly ever see them. I mean, the only commercials I really remember seeing lately are the ones for GTA and a few for some sports games. Compare this to how often you see commercials for movies - all the goddamned time - and you'll begin to see my main point, which I will get to after a dramatic interlude.

      Dramatic Interlude

      It seems that video games occupy a certain space of popular culture and that it is only slowly expanding beyond that. The geek influences are still in place even though they're mass market items. When I am interested in a new video game or a new system, I don't check the mainstream news outlets, I go to a video game website or read a video game magazine. Comparing this to when I want to read a review of a new movie - just open the newspaper or just watch the trailer on TV and judge it from that. Video games have clearly broken out of the niche of being a toy for kids BUT the marketing of them seems to be stuck in a limited circle. Of course, maybe this is a good thing - perhaps it's the fact that people are interested enough in video games to seek out information about them, without huge marketing budgets pushing them down our throats, that shows just why the video game industry pulls in so much more money.

      Oh also, the Mario Brothers movie was crap. I think that stunning pile of dog feces shows that a lot of people outside of the video game industry just don't get it - they don't have the ability to translate because their heads are stuck in Hollywood mode. All they did for that wretched mistake was take the basic characters from the game (two Italians, one wearing red, the other wearing green) and throw them into a run of the mill crap movie. There was no real use of the dynamics of the games. Video games are different. :D

      • I don't play games anymore and I'm not real into the whole thing like I was when I was a teenager in the 80's.

        But it sounds like from what I've read here that the industry is tough and making money is not easy. Why spend big dollars on advertising if you don't have to?

        Not to mention I would not think the indicators you mention above necessarily are good for measuring pop culture (t.v. ads and newspaper reviews). But I do see video game ads quite a bit. Also I see commercials where video games play a pa
        • True Dat, Yo (Score:3, Informative)

          Well measuring pop culture is a really hard problem (we're talking NP here) and I don't think there are any "good" ways of doing it. We can discuss what seems to be popular based on indicators but without having some way of observing all people at all times - it's hard to really know what is popular and what isn't. Economically, video games are obviously a huge part of pop culture because they are a very large industry. But I think that if you asked the average scumbag on the street which was a bigger part
      • You mean you haven't seen the, "It worked -- Dave's a chicken!" commercial, or that kind of spooky one with the little old lady in the nursing home muttering about dragons and whatnot (to her daughter's obvious consternation) until her grandson tells her about the gold crystal or somesuch?

        Maybe we just watch different channels, but I've been seeing a fair number of ads for specific carts as well as consoles themselves. Dothack, Xenosaga -- I don't even own a console (well, I've got a VCS) but I've seen and

        • Hmm, yeah - I think we're watching different channels. I pretty much stick to ESPN, Fox News and TechTV although I occassionally watch some junk on the networks if I feel like sitting on the couch and farting a lot.

          On a related-video games on TV-note, I do watch Extended Play on TechTV (which, in case you've not seen, is a show that has video game reviews) and I really enjoy that. The host is a bit of a clown but I get around that by pretending he doesn't exist. But do you think a show like that would make

          • Yes, we do. My local system doesn't carry TechTV, and I don't spend much time on the other ones. Try TNT, NBC, Cartoon Network, or Fox ('cause pretty much all I watch regularly, besides news, in Law and Order, Twentyfour, and Futurama, so I've probably mostly seen the ads in those places.)
      • Ok, *now* I understand.

        Yes. I agree. Pop culture has long since taken video games to heart, but the powers that be in Hollywood and the other centers of Big Media still don't get it.
        Now, personally, I think that it's a generational thing. Oddly enough, given their core customers, media companies famously are run by guys (pretty much all guys) who are positively decrepit. And like Wall Street, the culture is so strong and pervasive that even if somebody isn't from that world, they ape its morés and b
    • Tron was later on, The tank battle part of Tron was the best part. If you liked that you should download the demo version of Treadmarks. I remember Pong Break out SpaceWars Asteroids Battlezone Later on was Joust, and Donkey Kong. I have an excellent PC version of Asteroids that works just like the arcade version after I remapped the keys. The arrival of these games coincided with my college days so of course I had a lot of time to play them.
    • Would an InSync ballad to Centipede be what you are looking for?

      Well, N'Sync DID sample Pac-Man (and gave it credit) for their song "The Game is Over". But personally, I think Buckner and Garcia [bucknergarcia.com] did it better.

      wokka wokka wokka wokka wokka
    • by Shalda (560388)
      Let's not forget movies based on Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy, Wing Commander, Tomb Raider, Double Dragon, and so many others. No, on second thought, let's please try to forget all of them.
    • No Nsync, please. Please don't ruin my memory of the greatest album ever [bucknergarcia.com]. Yes, I'm a nerd, and I bought the CD from their site. :)

      --madgeorge

    • by Luveno (575425)
      Am I the only one who saw Tron?

      Homer: "I'm in a place I've never been before!"
      Marge: "What does it look like?"
      Homer: "Did you ever see the movie Tron?"
      Marge: "No."
      Apu: "No."
      Doctor Hibbert: "No."
      Otto: "No."
      Dr. Frink: "No."
      Chief Wiggam: "Yes.... I mean no."

    • Correct me if I am wrong, but The Last Starfighter was never an released game... There were plans to make a game to capitalize on the movie, but I don't think it ever happened. Tron also doesn't work since the game was made based on the moving, not the movie being made based on the game.

      To replace the two that I disqualified I add the following Tomb Raider and Mortal Combat
    • Sure. This is yet another case [slashdot.org] of folks claiming a neglect or marginalization of gaming that just doesn't exist.
      The truth is that post-Madonna, post-Reagan academia *loves* tropes like those in gaming, while as for transmission within pop culture itself, hmmm, how many early music videos used video game imagery? At least ten? Twenty?
      How about movies? War Games anybody?
      Well, moving on, lesse, clothing? Check. How many gen-Y kiddies bought their Atari or Pac Man t-shirts at Urban Outfitters who never even
  • Can't read (Score:1, Funny)

    by l33t j03 (222209)
    It would take time away from gaming.
  • by AKnightCowboy (608632) on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:52AM (#5511763)
    Since you brought it up, how much money DOES Hollywood and the recording industry bring in every year compared to the computer industry/software companies? Hollywood and the record companies seem to be the ones pushing for severe restrictions curtailing our computing equipment.. is it a case of David pushing Goliath around?
    • The arcade vs. Hollywood comparison is skewed anyway. It's more like arcade vs. Hollywood first run US box office profit. Everyone knows Hollywood is viewed as huge, so everyone loves to compare themselves to it, with a statistician's fine print thrown in.
    • Not exactly a proper comparison - "Hollywood", for example, has no beef with the console gaming industry, and their problems with PC's have nothing to do with gaming, but piracy of copyrighted content. Hollywood and the gaming industry are coming closer together - they're hardly adversaries...
    • In 2002 Hollywood box office total (first-run ticket sales only) was about $9M.

      In 2002 the video game industry (hardware, software, and accessories) brought in about $10M.

      Hello Kitty is *just* a little bit off with his Hollywood & Vegas combined statement.

      QED
    • Hollywood makes FAR more than the gaming industry. Always has and will for at least a long time yet. This myth about the gaming industry making more than Hollywood began because it was reported that the game industry had surpased BOX OFFICE receipts (true, BARELY). This turned into, "Games are bigger than movies!"

      Nope, isn't even close. Once you include DVD sales/rentals and such, Hollywood is way above and beyond the gaming industry.
      • by Reedo (234996) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:10PM (#5512521)
        Here's what the September 2002 issue of Business 2.0 magazine had to say about this myth.

        Videogames Vs. Hollywood
        You've probably heard that the videogame business is now bigger than the movie industry. Don't believe the hype. The reality: Videogame sales last year still trailed Hollywood box-office receipts (not to mention books and music). Throw in revenues from VHS and DVD sales and rentals, and game software becomes a distant also-ran.

        Share of the entertainment dollar, 2001 (TOTAL: $59 Billion)

        Video (VHS and DVD): 28%
        Books: 28%
        Movies (box office): 14%
        Music: 19%
        Videogames: 11%
        • But I think in the UK for example videogames retailed more in 2002 than video or box office, and was catching the heels of music.

          Of course, your figures are also for 2001 (a bad year, just before CameCube and Xbox kicked in).

        • http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/fun.games/03/12/game. sales.reut/index.html

          Well take a looksee at this. Videogame sales have apparently tripled, then, since 2001. And we all know that piracy is "killing" the music business, so its share will have gone down. DVDs are more popular then ever, so its chunk may have risen. So either the video game industry has Andersen for bookkeeping, or Bidness 2.0 and CNN have some wonky numbers.
  • Ten Pence (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I spent a whole day when I was 12 with a single ten pence piece, playing Wonderboy in monsterland, my score at the end of it was 867,000 odd and I was quite proud.

    Previoud high score just scraped in at the 80k mark.

    I didn't win the weekly high score prize because my dad owned the said arcade.

    Shame. Was a fiver. Could get chips, a litre of cider, and a spccy game in them days. With change. Didn't drink mind you.
  • by russx2 (572301)
    I'm trying.... One of the most random books reviewed on /. I've ever seen.

    Where *does* pacman go?! Arghh
  • by larien (5608) on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:53AM (#5511773) Homepage Journal
    Does it include his arch-nemesis, Nastyman [strangepath.net]?
  • Anyone else think the Lucky Wander Boy [luckywanderboy.com] looks a little like Buddy Lee [buddylee.com]?
  • written by the promising Weiss and not by that maiden aunt of yours who wouldn't let you have any more quarters.

    Who needed quarters? Didn't you read the Jolly Roger Cookbook? Getting arcade games for a penny instead of a quarter. Or mabye I read that somewhere else. Flicking pennies up the coin return and getting credits. woohoo.....
  • As far back as 1981, the videogame industry was pulling in more than Hollywood and Vegas combined; that year it raked in $5 billion, and for the most part did so one quarter at a time.

    this seems like wishful thinking. Perhaps Hollywood could not have been a 5 billion dollar market (back then there probably weren't videos, dvds, omnipresent cable tv, product placement, etc.), but Vegas ?!? i really do not think there was a domestic market bigger than Vegas in 1981. maybe DoD... and oil... and cocaine..
  • by mcmonkey (96054) on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:55AM (#5511802) Homepage
    "So why haven't the arcade games so formative to geek youth (okay, geek 30somethings, young in the glory days of arcade play) gotten their due from the rest of popular culture?"

    Let's see...there have been pop songs about arcade games, movies based on arcade games, movies about people playing arcade games, movies about people arcade video games, television cartoons based on arcade games, and almost every household you see on tv in US of A has at least one video game system.

    Yes, there is no Hollywood 'walk of fame' star for gaming, but what kind of 'due' do you expect?

    I think the important question is, why does every video game on tv sound like Pac Man for the 2600?
    • I think the important question is, why does every video game on tv sound like Pac Man for the 2600?

      They actually do this so that it is easily recognized as a video-game. I guess I can understand--as hardware gets better and better some games' graphics are increasingly realistic. Having Pac-man or Space Invader sounds lets everyone know that someone is playing a video-game and not watching car races or something like that.
      • Wouldn't the fact that they have a big XBox controller in their hand kinda tip off the viewers?
      • I would think the holding of video game controllers and the dialogue about, "Hay, let's play video games" would clue the viewer they're not watching a show about people watching car races. And it's not "Pac-man or Space Invader sounds" or a composition of stereotypical video game sound, it's Pac-Man for the Atari 2600.

        I've heard it on at least a dozen different sit coms, for range of game--road racers, FPS, etc. I can't be the only person who's noticed this.
        • Its because some sound engineer who probably hates his job of professionally hunting down varied canned laughter tracks has been told "go find me some videogame sounds and a speedball" by the director.
      • They actually do this so that it is easily recognized as a video-game.

        Not to mention the more quoted reason that those sounds from the 2600 are the only ones they don't have to pay someone for.
    • No kidding! Everyone and their dog wears an Atari t-shirt too.
    • why does every video game on tv sound like Pac Man for the 2600?

      Ugh. The 2600 version has the worst sound fx of any version I've ever heard. Eating the dots sounds like "gonk gonk gonk gonk" instead of the authentic "waka waka waka waka".
  • arcade games (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    if they weren't important, i wouldn't have built my own [rabien.com]
    • Very, very pretty.
      I would have KILLED for one of those when I was fifteen.

      *Please* say that you will make the top graphics plate swappable.

      So, are you gonna sell these things or what?

      Rustin
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone that makes it to the third level gets a visit from Robert Preston.
  • I wonder if this name has any link (in either direction) to Lupus Yonderboy, in _Neuromancer_?
  • wonderboy, what is the secret to your powers? Wonderboyyyyyyyyyyyyy, won't you save us from the mucky-muck?

    Sorry buys, but you can't dis the D (tenacious d, that is:-)
  • by termos (634980)
    I thought the subject said Lucky Wanker Boy.
  • I started with pinball: Gone by the wayside.
    I moved to Space Invaders: Gone as well
    ... Now it's AC2: will be gone in 3 years
    Such is life, such is the way of world and all pop culture. What can I say Shit Happens!
    • Re:Pinball (Score:2, Insightful)

      by The Jonas (623192)
      Yep, I grew up playing pinball, skee-ball, etc... in old-fashioned arcades and bowling alleys. Did anyone else ever draw a correllation between the makers (Bally, Midway, etc...) of these games and makers of the video games that followed (Same ones, etc...). Aren't these names (Bally, Midway, etc...) tied-in to the casino industry? Does anyone know if video game companies received venture capital (or other funding, investment) from the gambling industry (aka - The Mafia). It seems it would be more profi
    • I still love pinball .. [as shown at http://www.remsbox.com on occation] and have devoted 1/2 my basement to keepign some of these awesome beasts around.

      [and to answer jonas' question below .. yeah .. Bally/Midway design the 'fruit' machines in casinos now.]
  • I haven't read this book, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance(ZATAOMM) I read a while ago,

    but it sounds like if you are interested in that sort of philosophy 101 kinda stuff (NOT an insult! I am very into the philosophy 101 stuff! I'd rather not read Kant) its got a video-game wrapper.

    but it sounds like something I'd get from the library and read.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "and on where Pac-Man went in that split-second between disappearing on one side of the screen and reappearing on the other"

    There was a urinal just off-screen. You wouldn't think he'd drop his load in front of a crowd of teenagers, 4 ghosts and a bunch of cherries do you?
  • I met the author... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gribbly (39555) on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:15PM (#5511979)
    ...at my boxing class. I won't ruin the "mystique" except to say he's a really nice, smart guy with a genuine love for video games.

    I read the book too, and I agree very much with the review. The excerpts from the "Catalogue of Obsolete Entertainments" were my favorite part - some very canny insights into old-school arcade games. I particularly liked in one section where on of the character starts critiquing the catalogue in a manner that completely echoed what I was thinking...

    Go read the book, it's cool!

    grib.
  • back in my day (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:25PM (#5512052) Homepage Journal
    Even the coolest video games only cost a quarter! Now anything more advanced then a 1994 version of Street Fighter costs at least 50 cents, and I've seen some that take a doller to two dollers just so you can lose after one try.

    That's the reason I was turned off from arcades, dagnabbit.

    OT: I think the best baseball game ever made was SNK "Baseball Stars" for the NES. I've yet to seen one be as fun as that.
    • Except for laserdisk games. Some of those monsters would eat an entire week's allowance (in ye olden days, $5 to $10 depending how rich your parents were) within an hour.

      he sheer volume of quarters I pumped into Dragon's Lair is about what some would pay to have sex with a real woman, let alone Princess Daphne.
  • Anyone remember this blockbuster? Captain N: The Game Master http://us.imdb.com/Title?0096554
  • by Iridar (582314)
    I'm sorry, but every time I see this title I think "Happy Fun Ball" for some reason.

    Do NOT taunt happy fun ball...
  • Since this book is about geeks and games, I think its kinda appropriate that Amazon's "Customers who shopped for this item also shopped for" list contains: The Definitive Book of Pick-Up Lines. :)
  • So why haven't the arcade games so formative to geek youth (okay, geek 30somethings, young in the glory days of arcade play) gotten their due from the rest of popular culture?

    As mentioned, this isn't exactly accurate. Arcades were and are still very much of an either/or proposition: Either you went, or you did not; and the folks in the later case greatly outnumbered those of us in the former. Yet anthor example of being good vs. being popular. If this doesn't make sense, watch Tron a couple of times th
  • by istartedi (132515) on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:44PM (#5512276) Journal

    If you played in the days when primitive graphics and freshly-minuted archetypes made gameplay somehow even more addictive, this book will cause howls of recognition.

    I feel priveleged to have been born in '68, because I got to experience arcades at the height of their glory. Best arcade I ever went to: Spaceway Raceway in Springfield Mall. Actually, there were *two* arcades in Springfield mall during the 80s--IIRC, they were both called "Timeout" at one point. The Spaceway Raceway was the one that was remodeled to include a circular electric bumper-car track.

    The important thing is that the arcades were DARK. This cannot be stressed too much. Also, games were new, we were young, and this was "cutting edge technology that nobodoy knew where it would take us". It was soooo... easy to get "lost" in this fantasy world... perhaps too easy. I honestly believe I was addicted to games at one point.

    Timeout is still there, but SWRW was turned into something else... not sure what. The beginning of the end came for me when games started getting "cartoony" and I learned to drive. Then they started turning on lights in Time Out. They started turning on lights in all the arcades, reason given was that drug deals and pick-pocketing were going down. Lousy people always have to spoil it... but perhaps this was part of the "Star Wars Cantina" low-grade danger that made the places so appealing... that, and the fact that I had to ride my bike pretty far to get there.

    It all fell apart when I went to college. Even before that, they were losing their luster. And, when you can drive a car, there are much more interesting places to go...

    Of course kids these days have better tech, but I can't help but think they are deprived. There tech is too good. No epic bike rides for gaming... they sit on their butts too long... the effect of the tech and the direction it will take seems more predictable.

    Games now? I fire up Quake once in a while when I'm frustrated with something, but that's it. The addiction left, as mysteriously as it came.

    • Oh, most certainly. You take me back. Born in '66, myself.

      I used to be really into video games back in the late seventies when Asteroids was considered very high tech.

      There is just no way that the sort of arcades I went to could exist now. First of all, I went to ones on the edge of Times Square in New York City. Yeah, that Times Square. Pre-cleanup, with drug dealers and trannie hookers and all the stuff they've now made movies of. And I was a geeky little white boy waiting patiently (mostly) for my tu
      • > But I also was there *because* I was a geeky white boy. Because there, of all places, I wasn't the "walking dictionary" or the person to push in the halls because I knew too many answers or didn't dress right.

        Wow. Took the words outa my mouth.

        Favorite arcade memory - a chance meeting with one of my high school minor-nemeses at one of the rougher downtown arcades. Hey, it was the only place that had enough Robotrons that I could actually play for an hour or so without having to yield the mach

  • I can totally relate to the main character in the book wanting to find an old arcade game. In fact I was looking for Turtles by Konomi, 1980, a couple years ago, and couldn't find it. Then, enter MAME, and a seach for the rom - voila. Now I'm happily playing it. www.mame.dk/gameinfo/turtles/
  • by fondue (244902)
    I'm confused. Is the book's author breathtakingly pretentious and only barely acquainted with video games, or just this reviewer?

    'Lucky Wander Boy'? 'Araki Itachi'? Nostalgia instead of appreciation? Oh... just, *cringe*

  • Unfortunately, I had the displeasure of reading this book. While the subject matter is right up my (and most slashdotter's) alley, the author lacks the ability to actually present characters, and a story that is worth reading. It's like watching a documentary on the discovery channel with the volume turned all the way down. You're pretty sure it's supposed to be something you like but by the end, you never really got anything useful from it.

    If you're considering buying this novel, don't. It's really ba
  • Hmm, MAME has a facility for hacking/cheating games, kind of like Game Genie / Gameshark for console systems. I wonder if the protaganist considered looking for some cheat codes to help get through that level...
  • Maybe he should have titled it "Pac Man Feeble" instead?

You can bring any calculator you like to the midterm, as long as it doesn't dim the lights when you turn it on. -- Hepler, Systems Design 182

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