Friday, April 22, 2005

Game Time Nation

I thought it was a dream come true. The blurb in New York Magazine called Game Time Nation the best new arcade in the city of 2004. They said it was "cool" and "cozy" and that it's a "lofty hall full of flat-screen Sonys, eighteen Xboxes and PlayStation 2s, comfy couches, video-game launch parties, and Japanese D.J./art nights." It's not.

Maybe I'd be a bit less grumpy about the place if those game controllers didn't have more buttons than NASA Mission Control. I remember the original Atari, with the sad phallic joystick and that one red button and there was no way you could possibly fuck that thing up. Even Mom could understand the Atari controller. Then Nintendo came out with two buttons, confusing the hell out of Mom, but at least Dad could figure it out. And for several years, there was game controller stasis... until they fit three buttons on Sega Genesis, six buttons on Super Nintendo, and thus began a nuclear arms race of who could fit the most buttons, triggers, and joysticks on a single controller. The XBox I was playing on had eight buttons, two triggers, two joysticks, and that up-down-left-right thing. I was trying to grow an extra hand to control them all, but I only paid for an hour.

The blurb I read said the place was run by a French guy, so I was expecting something maybe half café, half cabaret, half upscale brothel. You know those friends you had back in elementary school who weren't really cool but their parents were loaded and they had every video game known to man plus a pool table, a ping pong table, and a trampoline, and you could mooch off their desperation for human contact till late at night? I was expecting Game Time Nation to be like their basement, only cooler, cause they'd serve you coffee.

Game Time Nation, it turns out, is more like your lazy Cheeto-eating slacker friend's basement. They clearly got their cozy, comfy couches from the Salvation Army, and I don't want to know if the stuffing started leaking out before or after they bought them. I'm guessing they've decided there's no longer a point to vacuuming the place, or spackling the walls so it might not look like the building will collapse at any moment. All eighteen flat-screen TVs are clearly being financed, as well as the soda machine, cash register, and possibly the three-dollar Lucite coffee tables.

None of this seemed to bother any of the eleven-year-old boys who appear to be the majority of Game Time Nation's clientele. I, however, felt trashy. And quite dismayed that most of those kids could probably kick my ass in Halo 2.