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Swipe This!: The Guide to Great Touchscreen Game Design by Scott Rogers

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Chapter 6: Arcade Crazy

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When I was a kid, I was crazy for arcade games. Absolutely crazy. I was hooked and I would do anything to play them. I had played pinball and I had played electro-mechanical games, but nothing matched the intense visual bliss and the sweet, sweet beep, boop, wakka that only an arcade game could give. I’m not proud to tell you that I stole quarters from Dad’s huge bowl of coins to play games at Scotty’s Arcade. I embarrassingly confess that during the 1981 Boy Scouts jamboree, I caused Troop 649 to mobilize a search for me because I hadn’t told anyone that I had dashed across the highway to a nearby mall to look for an arcade. I freely admit that I attended birthday parties of kids I didn’t like because they were having their parties at Golf Land, which had the gnarliest arcade in all of Northern San Diego County.

Because my parents wouldn’t let me spend all of my time in an arcade and I couldn’t afford to own arcade cabinets1, I lusted after two surrogates during my whole childhood. The first was a Vectrex: the first home system with graphics exactly like the arcade. The eye-searingly bright vector line graphics were identical to those found in Asteroids and Star Castle. Even cooler was the fact that the Vectrex was a self-contained gaming system, a rarity in 1982. The screen, processor, and even the controller were built right into the Vectrex! It was ...

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