Earlier this year Ashcraft emailed me to ask if I would write one of the forewards for his upcoming book on Japanese arcades. I jumped at the opportunity, mostly because it gave me a chance to get my hands on the book's galley. I'm a huge fan of Ash's writing and was dying to see how it read in book form.
Turns out it reads really well.
I've never been a huge fan of books about video games or gaming culture, mostly because most of them seem to forget about the people and instead focus on the technology. Not so with Arcade Mania! The Turbo-Charged World of Japan's Game Centres. In it, Ash walks you through a typical Japanese arcade game type by game type. But instead of focusing on the games he talks to the people to whom they matter most. From Japan's UFO Catcher Queen, to Street Fighter champion Daigo "The Beast" Umehara, to Shump champions and DDR dancers, Ash manages to put a face to every game and give us a glimpse into what makes people so fascinated with them.
My foreward for the book on the jump.
A Word From a Gamer:
Growing up in the seventies, an Army brat of sorts, arcade games kept me company as my family ping-ponged across oceans and countries. It didn't matter where we moved, everywhere from Thailand to Texas had arcades, making each new home feel welcoming. Reading through this book taps into those memories: days spent in an empty arcade in Korea playing shoot-em-ups; hours spent in an Officer's Club playing Frogger; my first Street Fighter fireball at a Texas bowling alley.
It wasn't until I was managing an arcade in college, years later, that I realised that the arcade cacophony, the flashing lights, the pocket full of quarters, were the hallmarks of a whole generation's childhood memories. In Japan those memories are still being formed in places like Akihabara, the arcade-laden town of Shangri-La-like import for North American gamers, but the arcades of the West have long since fallen.
But don't mourn the fall of America's arcades, a place of pinball, not pachinko; of ticket games, not card games. Instead celebrate the confluence of culture and technology still thriving in Japan.
Managing Editor of Kotaku.com, gamer
This reminds me. I need to find an agent and get to work on my book.