You know what pisses me off? People who don’t take care of their games. It drives me crazy. Companies like Nintendo often talk about video games and refer to them as “toys” people will want to play with. Suddenly I’m reminded of Woody’s “scared straight” speech to Sid near the end of Toy Story. Creepy talking toys aside, sometimes it’s cool to be able to pass the toys of your youth on to your children. Sure, they’ll find better toys as they grow up, but that’s not the point. The point is being able to share a piece of your childhood with your own children. It creates a bond between generations and gives parents something to show their children to help them understand that deep down, we’re all still kids inside. Problem with that is, you can’t do it if you treat your toys like shit.
Let’s face it. Video game consoles are toys. Adults with insecurities like to make distinctions to protect their ever so frail masculinity with some ridiculous nonsense such as publicly denying the urge to buy a “kid’s console” like the Wii U (welcome to 1994, folks) when they secretly love a game of Smash Bros. with their friends as much now as they did when they were kids. Good games don’t age, folks – just cynical gamers do. That being said, one should take care of their toys. Nothing in the world of gaming bothers me more than when I see an abandoned, left-for-dead, sad looking arcade machine left unattended in any random establishment with it’s marquee cracked, artwork torn, and T-molding stripped (Oh, the pain! – Mike). When you see a machine like that, it’s almost certain that at any moment it will break down and be damned to the junk pile because the operator just doesn’t give a damn.
I go out of my way to rescue broken down arcade machines when I see them and I can afford them, or have the space to store them. I’ve found rat infested Galaga machines left in barns, to a beautiful Super Mario Bros: Mushroom World pinball that had undertaken years of abuse at a kid’s pizza place. There’s probably less than 300 of them left in the world. It’s in rough shape, but I’m going to bring it back to life. Sometimes I keep my rescued machines, and sometimes they are farmed off or sold to worthy caretakers. I’ve never sold a machine back to an operator and I don’t intend to ever do so. The idea of taking a 35 year old Pac-Man cabinet (yes, it’s that old) and putting it out in the field is basically to condemn it to death. Seeing a classic machine like that out taking abuse from men in their 40’s who still feel the juvenile need to kick a machine when they lose, or pour beer on it because they can’t be bothered to set their damn drink down is disheartening. It literally makes me sick.
Most people aren’t bothered so much at the sight of a random amusement machine taking abuse, but then again, I’m not normal. I see these machines as my children. They’re little pieces of pop culture history that I’m reaching out to save in a time where they aren’t quite old enough for people to have fully realized their value. It drives me mad to see a douchebag who’s far too old for such bullshit to punch out the marquee of a Street Fighter II machine just because he sucks as button mashing.
I often go out of my way to share my machines with people, often to the extent that I’ll cart some of them to conventions around the area for people to play, either for nostalgic value, or to share with their children. It’s always fun to watch a child play a 20+ year old arcade machine with the cynical eyes of adulthood to cloud their judgement. A game is a game, regardless of age. Time doesn’t erode a quality game design. To them, it’s a giant stand-up video game machine. Suddenly that game on your TV at home has because a public event and it’s somehow cooler because of it.
I guess consumers of today are so accustomed to their electronics only lasting 3 years or so. I’ve been through seven Xbox 360s and three PlayStation 3’s in the past six years. That’s pathetic. But that doesn’t give us just cause to treat our belongings like shit. There’s a whole generation ahead of us that might like to look back and enjoy the games of their parents or grandparents one day. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some consoles still around ready for them when that time comes so they could get the authentic experience? Take care of your video games, folks… take care of your toys.
I leave you with this quote from Shigeru Miyamoto:
“What’s really important is viewing Nintendo almost like a toy company where we’re making these things for people to play with. As a consumer you want to be able to keep those things around for a long time and have those things from your youth that you can go back to and experience again.”