I apologize for not getting this post out sooner. Let's try this again, shall we?
Up in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire (near Laconia) is a place called simply Funspot. It's an entertainment complex of sorts - bowling alley, indoor golf center, bingo parlor, that sort of thing. However, its real draw is the American Classic Arcade Museum, an exploratory unlike any other. You see, the vast majority of its exhibits are interactive: they comprise the largest public collection of 1987-and-earlier arcade video games on the whole planet. And by largest, I mean in excess of 150 machines. And that doesn't count the roughly thirty pinball machines. For anyone with even a faint appreciation for the art of the video game, Funspot is a paradise.
But it gets better. And you can be a part of it.
You see, there's this tournament they run every year. It's the most prestigious classic-video-game tournament in the world. And it draws the most exalted of competitors. As it happens, they're a pretty decent bunch, and they're approachable. Many don't even participate that heavily in the competition itself; instead, they're on premises to hang out with all the other masters they don't get to see very often, and perhaps concentrating on a single title in the arcade's collection to attain - or improve - a world record. It is, for all intents and purposes, the official annual gathering of all those who love playing classic arcade games. Twin Galaxies referees - like myself - are always on hand, interested in logging scores for those hoping to get into the book of records. Much of the classics area is portioned off to tourney entrants only, making for a pleasant experience.
I've never missed the tournament. What I've done there from year to year has varied, but I've always participated. This year I'll likely do less playing and more score-recording, at least while the arcade is open. During the tourney, the gaming doesn't stop when Funspot closes its doors; in the cabins and motel rooms, the competitions continue, with players bringing along home consoles and challenges for the others. Whether or not you feel you're even remotely capable of being competitive in the tourney,
I do, however, intend to finally do what I've been inching towards for years: breaking a million on Quartet. And that is where things will get a little interesting.
I am once again soliciting requests to share accommodations with those willing to join me in my venture, sparing me from my usual fate of needing to crash in my stepfather's trailer half an hour away - trust me, it isn't pretty. The reservation I'd place - and how much the cost per person would be - would depend on how many respond to this, what days they'd be able to attend, and quite frankly how quickly this is responded to, as I don't know how much longer rooms will remain available in the area. The nature of the room will likely be a cottage, actually, given their prevalence in the area; the Sun Valley cottages in particular are very popular, given that they're in walking distance of the arcade and that they're the unofficial gathering place for after-hours gaming. Let's hope they still have some available! I'm guessing we're looking at about $30-45 per person per night at the worst, but as I said there are a lot of variables. It may well be even less.
There are dozens of reasons to come along and enjoy yourself, but I'll add one more in anyway because I feel like it and it could be fun: if at least three others go in with me for at least two nights, and I officially (on the TG record) break a million on Quartet at the arcade during the tourney, I'll refund their room fees for those nights. Don't worry about whether I can afford it or not - my income tax refunds are in excess of one thousand dollars this year.
Here is everything I can think of at the moment to let you know about regarding the excursion. If you have ANY questions or concerns whatsoever, post a comment here, and be quick about it:
For those who'd like to know a little more about the tourney itself: there's no shortage of free-form gaming about, as many are simply trying to master a single machine under the watchful eye of a TG ref. The main events themselves are in five parts: Monochrome, Color, Pinball, Ladies, and Secret - the one entry fee covers all five. Monochrome consists of a few older machines with one-color displays; Color of more modern titles, though still none newer than 1987. Pinball is usually two or three older tables. Ladies is for females only, and consists of a mixture of the above. The titles for each of those four competitions are not announced until the start of the tourney. During the tourney, players can play the titles as often as they like (as long as they take turns) throughout all four days; only your best score on each title counts. (So missing a day or even two of the tourney isn't much of a handicap, really!) At tourney end, percentage points are awarded based on the top scores for each title during the tourney; highest total percentage wins. The prize in previous years for the winners was $100 for each category, I believe. Secret operates differently: each day of the tourney, a Secret Game is declared; the top score on the game for that day only gets a cash prize ($25 in previous years) - I've actually won two of those over the years. There's also a Player of the Year category - no cash prize, but you'll get top billing if you compete in Monochrome, Color, and Pinball and have a higher total percentage for all titles in all three categories than all others who also played in all three.
But you don't really need to know any of that. The experience is more valuable than the prizes. Besides, you may be too busy playing everything in sight to care!
I really can't stress enough how terrific the place is, especially during the tourney; it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, if it weren't for the fact that it could be done every year. Now would be a good time to start.
If you're interested, comment on this entry with what days you'd be interested in attending; add whatever other info you think is relevant. I'd like to keep all discussions public and open, so others can work together as needed. If there's ANYTHING regarding this that I haven't covered that you'd like to know, just ask. - ZM