ASCII by Jason Scott

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The Sad Compulsion of the Right Thing —

It’s kind of interesting what some people consider the Right Thing and how once you have the Right Thing in your mind, you feel almost dirty or dishonest turning away from it, even if this Right Thing is 100% optional.

To wit: the wonder of Peter Hirschberg’s Luna City arcade has now broken wide and people from Wil Wheaton to Kotaku to a dozen other high-profile entities have all sung his praises. Well-earned praises, indeed. Like I noticed, his attention to detail is what wins the day; everything from the blacklight to the colors of the wall to the vintage posters and even the background music. He’s about getting it right, not just getting it. For this reason, the arcade doesn’t seem like a rich man’s toy, like he hired consultants to “make a game room”; it seems like someone crafting a real place from their memories and tastes but also applying all this with a sense of having to live with its outcome. It’s a very nice balance struck in there.

So, with this multitudinous attention paid to the arcade, and the many hundreds of comments it’s generating, it’s natural that someone would take it to the next level. It’s not enough to build a 2,400 square foot arcade, populate it with 100 games, fill it with nostalgic items and pump it full of period music. There was some confusion about the arcade initially; was it open to the public? Was it real? Did it have pinball machines? All the usual questions people have when they fail to click an extra link or two. But now that all that’s out of the way, it’s become about the quarters.

People started to ask about how several articles mentioned that Peter gave quarters to play in the games. Why do this strange thing, they queried. It turns out this is partially a legal situation, that is, by letting people play for free, it’s not a business. But also, he prefers quarters over tokens because he prefers that period of history before tokens became the norm.

But then, as one fellow asked, do you only use quarters from the period of the games? The answer was no, no, nothing like that. But why not?

We stand on the shoulders of giants, and Hirschberg’s a giant in this realm. Now someone’s thrown down the gauntlet even further. I should also mention that the rest of the entry about the quarters is quite brilliant, and strikes at the heart of why I’m doing an arcade documentary.

So there we go. The idea is thrown out there, the concept of using period quarters, and it’s stuck in my head. Of course that makes sense! It’s neither destructive nor ludicrous; it’s a little polish, a little smoothed edge, another 15 minutes of careful sanding to ensure not a single raised bump goes along the side of the instrument. It’s there and it won’t come out.

Now, I know Peter would never ask for this. I don’t even know what he thinks of it. But I know that whenever I visit his arcade, I will bring in a pile, perhaps a bucket, maybe a truckload of pre-1985 quarters to trade for some later period ones. In doing so, it’s the least I can provide.. a little help in sending his arcade back in time and finishing off that last Right Thing to do.

I’ve been sorting all morning.

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  1. Flack says:

    Wow, that really takes it to the next level, doesn’t it?

    In a recent DP thread about Peter’s arcade, someone commented with “the selection of games is not necessarily what I would have gone with, but I guess everyone has their favorites.”

    Sometimes it is funny to be reminded that you can’t please everyone.

  2. jad1 says:

    OK. So why not take it to the next level and say that people will only be allowed in the arcade if they are wearing 1980’s fashions?

  3. Church says:

    That’s such the geek move, Jason. I bow to you, sir.