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Funspot - The Zotmeister

solving the puzzle of life one entry at a time

Apr. 17th, 2007

11:03 pm - Funspot

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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:

  • I'm going to nip this in the bud right now: I will NOT tolerate ANY alcohol consumption whatsoever among my fellow travelers for ANY portion of the trip. If you can't be dry, forget it. That is one chance I am NOT taking, and I know at least one other very likely companion would not have it any other way. This is 100% non-negotiable.

  • The tournament itself runs from May 31 to June 3 inclusive - that's a Thursday to a Sunday, but hold on a minute. I don't need anyone to necessarily be there all four days. In fact, I'm expecting most respondents would only be interested in two or three days, and I'm prepared for that. I'm guessing that I'm most likely only going to need the room for Friday and Saturday nights; I'll find a place to crash on Thursday night, and then check into the room Friday. Sunday night I plan to leave, but if others would like to stay one more night and head back Monday, I'm sure I could reserve the room for the extra night as long as they're going to pay for it.

  • Carpooling with me is unlikely unless you're going to be there all four days, but surely you could carpool with each other. Feel free to use the comment page of this entry as a gathering forum.

  • There are other attractions in the area, but I'm largely unfamiliar with them. Don't feel tied to the arcade on my account, but you'd be on your own. There are a TON of waterparks in the area, but I don't know if they'll be open yet. There is a place right down the street from the arcade called Kellerhaus that is a chocolatier, among other things; they make great stuff, and I always try to sneak in there once during the trip.

  • The tournament itself costs around $30 to enter, but included in that is over a hundred game tokens. If you need more, you can buy more, and there will be tons of coupons for extra tokens readily available - Kellerhaus usually has a stack of them, for example.

  • Food is up for discussion. One of the best parts of the tourney is all the lunch and dinner group gatherings, where the players all discuss gaming and anything else without the distraction of the machines. There is a supermarket a ways down the road that could be used to stock the cottage fridge if need be. We may be able to leech off others as well if we end up in Sun Valley. One could bring their own wares. Basically, I'm set to go my own way on food, so feel free to discuss the topic with others here if need be.

  • The URI Gaming Club Candlepin Bowling Championship will also be occurring there. I am SO totally going to lose, but I'll enjoy every minute of it.

  • The complete list of expenditures: lodging, food, the entry fee, possibly extra tokens, possibly bowling/chocolates/souvenirs. Expected total cost for the weekend: under $200, and that's if I don't get the million. (Anyone scoping out other attractions in the area is obviously on their own, of course.)

  • 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

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