While working in midtown and staying in Jersey City this week with dear friends Tamara & JP, after work one night JP and I checked out (and I “checked in” to) the new Barcade location, close to Grove. Besides the delicious craft beer selection, and the equally delicious NJ-style hipster specimens beginning to trail in, JP said the owners rented a trailer and drove around the country to stock up their space with vintage 80s video games. What could be better than a custom pint-wide shelf between each free-standing game! It had been decades since I had been among that many machines — with the exception of one random Ms. Pac Man game with Matt at a laundromat in DC a year ago, and a night at Ground Kontrol as part of the 2008 AIGA Leadership Retreat in Portland, OR. Galaga, Millipede, Joust, and Burger Time were always only somewhat appealing, so I continued, as I have since I was a kid, to plunk my hard-earned quarters into Qbert, Tempest, Frogger, and Ms. Pac Man (luckily, the sped-up version). These games are controlled simply via joystick or with the addition of a single button — fire! That’s their only interface. Let’s call this Pinball Wizard 2.0. This is my generation.
Now, it’s safe to say that my Jersey City compatriot JP is a gaming geek, with both XBox 360 and Wii hooked up to the projector, and generations of previous gaming platforms and gaming promotions proudly on display around the apartment (anyone else remember Sony’s Easter Island campaign?). During my stay, he fired up Portal 2 and grabbed the dozen-button controller to solve it — I could tell he’d done so given the rolling credits. I realized that the more heady and narratively complex games (which seem to have started with Myst) — the ones that require you to figure out what you’re doing first before you start figuring out how to do it — require more buttons to control.
JP is clearly a Pinball Wizard 3.0 maven. I kicked his ass at the arcade.