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Lucky Wander Boy

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the itchy-feet dept.

Books 172

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.

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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172 comments

Sorry but... (-1, Offtopic)

WildThing (143539) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511707)

First Post - haha

Maybe First Post (-1, Offtopic)

VGMSupreme (228396) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511715)

Wow, I might get first post on this...

I love Arcade games, back in the day, tho I am only 22 now. I wished more of them were still around. You see the random DDR pads and House of the Dead 2 machines, but that is about it. Where did they all go?

Re:Maybe First Post (0)

ggambett (611421) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511760)

There are great games now. I particulary liked The Lost World!

F I R S T P O S T (-1, Offtopic)

Bob Abooey (224634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511719)

I claim this first post in the name of the anti-war coalition for baby Jesus!!!!!

So (0, Insightful)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511720)

We'll correct the oversight of games not being recognized as a part of pop culture by writing a book about them?

I'm a grown-up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511721)

I don't care about this childish stuff.

Does it detail the part... (0, Funny)

The Beezer (573688) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511732)

where Lucky Wander Boy becomes the 43rd President of the United States?

Implausible (5, Funny)

tmark (230091) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:Implausible (0)

greenalbatros (215035) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511992)


I'd be screaming at the screen


isnt that what slashdot's all about?

Re:Implausible (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512019)

I don't get this. Just because *you* can't have both MAME and a girlfriend doesn't mean some of the rest of us can't.

Granted, it's difficult to justify four hours of Joust while she's waiting in the bed, but sometimes that's where it all starts...

My wife got pretty good at chair sex... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512136)

because of games, so I see it as a positive aspect.

heh, yeah (1)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512362)

nothing beats playing super mario 3 for sexual favors either. A favorite game for me and my wife- - heh.

Re:My wife got pretty good at chair sex... (1)

BurKaZoiD (611246) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512396)

You made your wife have sex with a chair?!?

it sure beats having sex with a joystick (1)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512425)

brings a whole new meaning to the name "space invaders".

Of course, with the PSX/2 vibrating function, it's almost as if the controller was asking for it.

I can prove you're wrong. (3, Funny)

solarrhino (581267) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512044)

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] !

Fucking geek steroetypes. (5, Insightful)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512075)

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.".

Re:Fucking geek steroetypes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512376)

You said God quite a few times there, sexual frustrations????

heh I'm at work right now.... (1)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512403)

so there unless my wife drops out of the sky, I think I'll be sexually frustrated until I get home from work.

Re:Fucking geek steroetypes. (0)

The Apostrophe Guy (644728) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512450)

""God, this cop-buddy comedy with a black man in it isn't racist enough in it is portrayal of a subculture."

You should have used "its", you stereotypical fucktard.

thank you (1)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512529)

i'll remember that next time I'm typing in a response to a post that will maybe last a day or two on the internet, you shit for brains.

Re:Fucking geek steroetypes. (0, Flamebait)

jgerman (106518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512605)


NONE OF IT IS REAL


Patently untrue bullshit. Sterotypes come into existence for a reason, they are a valid generalization that have aquired a stigma with the onslaught of PC. That's not to say that you can ever apply a sterotype to a particular individual, the chances of every attribute of the sterotype fitting are next to nil.


Sterotypes are a distillation of the common traits of a group. They are valid, however you are correct. You cannot apply them to an individual with any accuracy. However, we're talking about humor here, it's a joke lighten up.


Besides:



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


Fat chicks don't count.


Thppppt

Re:Implausible (1)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512400)

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...

Arcade games were a FAD (-1, Troll)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511745)


Why doesn't...DISCO still make money today?

I still prefer battling it out with another live human in a game of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter 2, in an arcade, but nobody seems to want to go in there any more. They're full of freaks. Arcades used to be 'cool'

Re:Arcade games were a FAD (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511825)

Arcade's weren't a fad, they just didn't upgrade at the speed of consoles, so consoles caught up and passed up arcades. Why would I fork over $0.50 a game when I could spend $50 for the entire game, and not have to leave my house (plus better graphics, saved gameplay, and no smoke)?

High Score - that is why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511921)

Where else can you really obtain a true High Score and true infamy?

Think Frogger seinfeld ep.

Virtually every other game can be tampered with, patched, repatched, exploited etc. Plus noone knows who you really are.

So next time you see an arcade which doesn't have the default high score entries (they all seem to have them these days, pah, kids) think of the skills, effort and no-lifes that these people posess.

Then think that you just read all this comment, and whats worse, I wrote it.

You see the problem is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511844)

Now everyone has consoles. And the internet.

Unfortunately, if you want some real physical companionship, you have to either :

1. Find a friend, or someone who will pretend to be your friend whilst you have a superior console or more games

2. Go into said arcade, and risk the consequences.

That's not quite true. (3, Interesting)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511848)

Disco might not be the same as it was in the 70's, but disco music has consistently proven to be a money spinner.

Many of the latest cuts from the top DJs are remixes of older tracks, and in the late 90's there was a definite 'disco vibe' to a lot of the commercial club output.

Recent club music seems to be having a bit of an 80's resurgence (as does European pop music in general - for proof, listen to 'Freak Like Me' by the Sugababes).

Disco culture, however, has proven popular since the 70's. If you're in the US, just take a look at some of those candy ravers and you'll see what I mean.

Re:Arcade games were a FAD (2, Insightful)

Drey (1420) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511946)

Arcades were /always/ full of freaks, they're just no longer /your/ freaks.

Re:Arcade games were a FAD (2, Interesting)

Dread_ed (260158) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511999)

"I still prefer battling it out with another live human in a game of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter 2"

Me too, however I get the same thrill matching wits and reflexes while playing Quake/UT/etc. online. It's nice to play for free and I don't have to leave the house.

The other nice thing is no one complains that I am stark naked.

Re:Arcade games were a FAD (0, Offtopic)

prator (71051) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512320)

I'd like to issue a formal complaint concering your stark nakedness.

-prator

Stop Whining (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511748)

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 (3, Interesting)

coke_dite (643074) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511832)

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!

Re:Stop Whining (1)

stevey (64018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511888)

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..

Re:Stop Whining (1)

Moskie (620227) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511984)

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...

Re:Stop Whining (1)

stevey (64018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512096)

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*

Mario Brothers Was Crap (5, Insightful)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511972)

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

Re:Mario Brothers Was Crap (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512057)

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 part - like the battery one w/the little handheld games.

Yes Mario Bros. was not high art- but I'm just saying video games were all over in pop culture in the 80's. Technology in general was huge. It was all out there. Everybody wanted to see all the gizmos.

Now we've come around full circle. People want the power and convenience of the technology but they do not want to see it. They want it to be like a good butler. Always there, always anticipating your every need, but never intruding.

.

True Dat, Yo (3, Informative)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512118)

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 of pop culture, movies or video games (again, I don't really know how you go about measuring such a thing), he would say movies. I believe that there's a perception that video games are small market while movies, television, music, etc. are big market. Of course, this perception may have to do with the fact that people become famous from being in a movie or on television or releasing music - but who wants to look at the people from Id?

I think that this perception is what the article summary was talking about. Video games are a part of pop culture but people think they play a much smaller role than they do.

Interesting analogy with the butler there; very true. No one wants to solder anymore! - those wimps

Re:Mario Brothers Was Crap (2)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512132)

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 noticed the ads.

You're dead right about reviews, though -- they're only sporadic in the mainstream press, and generally in the form of "will this permanently damage your children, or do the effects wear off after while?",

Re:Mario Brothers Was Crap (1)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512252)

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 it on a network? I don't really know. I think the networks don't believe it would get any ratings. But, Siskel and Ebert (minus the dead one, plus the replacement) have a show that's on a network and I guess that must get ratings. So, why couldn't a video game show succeed? Oh well, I'm happy with TechTV.

Ha, that line about Siskel and Ebert was pretty fun. I crack myself up.

Re:Mario Brothers Was Crap (1)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512324)

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.)

Re:Stop Whining (1)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512085)

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.

Re:Stop Whining (1)

dexter riley (556126) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512158)

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

Re:Stop Whining (2, Funny)

Shalda (560388) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512253)

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.

Re:Stop Whining (1)

madgeorge (632496) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512388)

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

Can't read (1, Funny)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511754)

It would take time away from gaming.

How powerful is Hollywood? (5, Interesting)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 11 years ago | (#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?

Re:How powerful is Hollywood? (1)

Lawbeefaroni (246892) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511911)

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.

Re:How powerful is Hollywood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512391)

Do you have a link to an original study or just some cold, hard numbers? I'd really like to know the origin of this innacurate or highly conditional "video games are bigger than Hollywood" meme.

Re:How powerful is Hollywood? (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512076)

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...

Re:How powerful is Hollywood? (1)

mrleemrlee (192314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512575)

"Hollywood" is owned by the same companies that distribute most of the video games ...

Re:How powerful is Hollywood? (1)

jweeld (623924) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512190)

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

Billion not Million (1)

jweeld (623924) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512465)

Oops...I meant B as in billion, not M.

QED

Re:How powerful is Hollywood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512319)

hollywood really doesn't make that much money. They could make a bigger profit by putting all the money they use to make films into a high interest savings account.

Waaaay Off Base (1)

Reedo (234996) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512383)

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.

Cold Hard Numbers (via Business 2.0 Magazine) (4, Informative)

Reedo (234996) | more than 11 years ago | (#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%

Ten Pence (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511764)

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.

RTFR? (1)

russx2 (572301) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511766)

I'm trying.... One of the most random books reviewed on /. I've ever seen.

Where *does* pacman go?! Arghh

Where do the little poeple go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511783)

No really, where do they go? That little door int he screen. Where do they go?

Where does the me go?

Yeah, but where does the meat go?

PHOENIX IS DYING! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511769)

It is official; my access_log confirms: Phoenix is dying

ONE more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Phoenix community when Microsoft confirmed that Phoenix market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all desktops. Coming on the heels of a recent review of my apache user agent logs which plainly states that Phoenix has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Phoenix is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent "Who's Yer Daddy" browser popularity contest.

Lucky Wander Boy (2, Funny)

larien (5608) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511773)

Does it include his arch-nemesis, Nastyman [strangepath.net] ?

Lucky Wander Boy == Buddy Lee! (2, Funny)

embedded_C (653649) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511782)

Anyone else think the Lucky Wander Boy [luckywanderboy.com] looks a little like Buddy Lee [buddylee.com] ?

Quarters? (1)

mrgrey (319015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511786)

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.....

claims... (1)

Misha (21355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511800)

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...

sorry, off topic.

Re:claims... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511974)

1981 was in the time period where Vegas was in decline, but before the Steve Wynns of the world came in and built the mega-casinos.

So, yes. There were markets bigger than Vegas at the time.

WTF pop culture do you live in? (4, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511802)

"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?

Re:WTF pop culture do you live in? (3)

IsoRashi (556454) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511932)

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.

Re:WTF pop culture do you live in? (1)

80bower (463593) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512067)

Wouldn't the fact that they have a big XBox controller in their hand kinda tip off the viewers?

cheap royalties or running joke? (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512110)

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.

Re:cheap royalties or running joke? (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512512)

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.

Re:WTF pop culture do you live in? (1)

dmeeking (641206) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512416)

No kidding! Everyone and their dog wears an Atari t-shirt too.

arcade games (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511811)

if they weren't important, i wouldn't have built my own [rabien.com]

Re:arcade games (0)

LinuxCumShot (582742) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511852)

dude.. thats fucking sweet.... sweet dude sweet

ELIZABETH SMART NOW HAS SIZE 11 ASSHOLE!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511812)

It is official; CNN confirms: Elizabeth Smart's asshole has been stretched out after 8 months of nearly constant anal intercouse by her *cough* *chuckle* "abductors."

Let me guess (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511818)

Anyone that makes it to the third level gets a visit from Robert Preston.

Wow (0, Offtopic)

LooseChanj (17865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511836)

Adam is a very sad little boy.

Lucky Wander Boy - Sounds Familiar (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511861)

I wonder if this name has any link (in either direction) to Lupus Yonderboy, in _Neuromancer_?

Wonderboy eh'? (1)

thoolie (442789) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511881)

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:-)

Re:Wonderboy eh'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512332)

The least you could fucking do is get the lyrics right, asshat. Quit karma whoring for "Funny" (especially since this'd be "Redundant", see the link to the Wonderboy lyrics above). Die now, thanks.

wtf. (1)

termos (634980) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511892)

I thought the subject said Lucky Wanker Boy.

Pinball (1)

TheIronDuke (649926) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511896)

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 (2, Insightful)

The Jonas (623192) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512048)

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 profitable and draw less attention from the law to make money from video games (which only provide the illusion of winning something tangible) than operating brick-and-mortar gambling establishments. One may think this is an offtopic rant, but does a plan exist to have the youth of the world addicted (and I use the term very loosely) to gaming/gambling from an early age? Haven't we already seen evidence of this through video_game_themed Slot/Video_Poker machines in casinos for some time now?

Re:Pinball (1)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512509)

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.]

Merits of old games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511925)

A lot of people like to play old games like Donkey Kong, $YOUR_FAV_OLD_GAME. on MAME. However, I think the main draw must be the nostalgia factor, because I find these games to be boring after about 2 minutes of play. I don't think there is any merit to the "they don't make 'em like they used to" argument.

What are some of your old favorites?

mine:
Metroid, Zelda, Megaman, SMB, Tecmo Bowl (yeah, nintendo kicks a55)

Sounds like Zen and the Art... kinda... (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511936)

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.

Pacman? That's easy... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5511958)

"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?

Megamania! (0)

scovetta (632629) | more than 11 years ago | (#5511964)

Megamania was the greatest game ever. I still play it. I think my high score was around 360,000. Of course, most atari games are superior to the crap they hock in stores now.

Anyone here ever owned an Aquarius? They had a D&D game on it--probably the best game I've ever played, I wish I could get a PC version of it. Oh well, back to reality.

I met the author... (2, Interesting)

gribbly (39555) | more than 11 years ago | (#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 (3, Insightful)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512052)

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.

Captain N: The Game Master (1)

yorgo (595005) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512084)

Anyone remember this blockbuster? Captain N: The Game Master http://us.imdb.com/Title?0096554

Title Rhythm (2, Funny)

Iridar (582314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512095)

I'm sorry, but every time I see this title I think "Happy Fun Ball" for some reason.

Do NOT taunt happy fun ball...

Amazon's "Also shopped for list" (2, Funny)

pbemfun (265334) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512104)

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. :)

Perspective (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512142)

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 through.

mark

Arcades "Back In The Day" (2, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512276)

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.

Re:Arcades "Back In The Day" (0)

VGMSupreme (228396) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512515)

{Might be OT, so don't flame me in a bad way.}

In a way, you might be right, we are deprived. We did not have the same experiences as you did when arcades were at their prime. But there are still some people of our generation that beleive that the older arcades are "more of a game" (use this term loosely) than the newer ones that are out now.

Personally, alot of the newer arcade games out now (if you can find one now), contain games that are very high tech, but alot of memorization and/or are very complex to pick up. A couple of years ago, I walked into a arcade, and between the 30+ machines in there, I only saw three machines really being used. One was the Marvel vs Capcom, which alot of people were crammed at with quarters planced on the game to hold spots. The other game was the first Gautlet (sp?) (The third game was a old racing game that people were crowding around cause the guy has nearly beaten all of the tracks, and were both rooting for him to finish, and yelling at him to stop putting quarters in the machine and give someone else a chance). When I walked up to the Gautlet group and watch, it was crowded with people older than I was (and I was 17, these people looked to be about 35-40, very odd for me). They were all talking about the games back in the day and I wish I could get in on the conversation, but I knew nothing about the games of the day. The mentioned a few things that you said (place being dark, people playing for hours on end, etc.)

I had to think about it for a second, but our technology has brought us a long way from what was Tron and Ms. PacMan, but we don't really show our apperication for the past. Most of us take it for granted. I hear people talk about the latest games for the PS2 and Xbox, but I barely hear anyone talk about Blaster Master for NES, or Donkey Kong for Coleco (sp?) Vision (Yes, I had that system, and I was 5 when I started playing it).

If there was a museum for the era in which the first arcade games came out, I would so go and visit, to remember the roots of what brought up the video game industry, but for now, I will deal with what I have, and maybe at some point, I will finally finish playing Zelda 1.

(P.S. I am just curions (and yes, this is OT), but is there an actual end to PacMan, or does it just keep going?)

Re:Arcades "Back In The Day" (1)

Steve525 (236741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512598)

I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. I suspect a lot of people our age can. That's one of the things that made MAME so great when I first discovered it: shared nostalgia.

I will admit that when Doom came out, suddenly I was interested in games again. I still am, but the interest is waning. There doesn't seem to be anything as fresh and exciting out now, just the same old gameply with better graphics. In addition, I'm busier with family. I guess you could say the same happened all those years ago, when I was first able to drive. The games were getting old, and I had better things to do.

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512277)

Acording to Forbes Magazine, the Video Game Industry made closer to 10 billion in 2002. Thats in the US alone.

30 somethings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512293)

Friday nights at the arcade with the tokens lined up 4 rows deep on the donkey kong machine. oh, and you could actually smoke while you played your video game if you were so inclined.

That was back when pacman for the 2600 looked liked dog shit, but you still put your order in months in advance to plop down your $50. I guess this wa '82'sh.

I guess when the graphics on your x-box are just as good or better than anything in the arcades these days, there's not much point of an arcade. Kindof a shame though. Something about the dark arcades, with all the different sounds and music(everybody hating the manager/token-boy), beating each other's high scores, just doesn't cut it while sitting on your couch.

Maybe arcades will make a comeback with some kind of advanced virtual reality system with full tacticle/pressure suits. Who knows.

In search of turtles, the Arcade Game... (1)

linus_vp (644220) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512518)

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/

Hmm... (1)

fondue (244902) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512525)

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*

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