Kevin (erf_) wrote,

  • Music:

why games are important

As most of you who are New Yorkers are probably already well aware, Chinatown Fair, the last traditional arcade in NYC, shut its doors for the last time last week. Anecdotal reports say gamers congregated in the arcade to the very end, playing against each other until the last cabinet was hoisted into the street.

This comment on Kotaku, by "Adam," sums up perfectly what this place meant to six generations of gamers. I couldn't have said it better:

For those who do not know what it is to be in this city, I will say that the grit and filth in the streets may seem unwelcoming and even foreboding to many; but to people like me, who call this broken and bizarrely unified yet segregated city home, Chinatown Fair was for many what churches, synagogues, temples and mosques should be, but often fail to become.

It was a home for those of us who felt we couldn’t find comfort in our own homes. It was a church for those of us who wanted to congregate together and revel in the bliss of gaming. It was a watering hole for those looking to relax after a long day and meet up with friends both old and new for old times sake. But perhaps most importantly of all, for all the joy it bought, it provided something so few things in the city can truly do: it gave us a means to forget.

Rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight, and everyone in between, it didn’t matter what you were: Chinatown Fair was important to us all because it was an escape for us all.

Whether it be from bullies, abusive family members, an unfair job, an overbearing school schedule, the inane cycle of our daily lives, shattered dreams, broken promises or even from ourselves, Chinatown Fair allowed us to forget, for the cost of a quarter, that which hurt us most, and made us feel good about ourselves, even if only for a little while.

When I was forced to leave college due to financial constraints, Chinatown Fair helped me forget how painful that it was for me to be reminded of my family’s lack of wealth.

When I was looking for a job and couldn’t luck out with any of the applications or interviews, Chinatown Fair was there to help me clear my head.

When I was feeling suicidal, and my family was on the verge of facing homelessness, Chinatown Fair provided me with entertainment, solace and a sense of home.

When I was feeling alone, Chinatown Fair, and the people there, reminded me that no matter who you were, there was always someone there for you that would be there to hold you close, make you smile, or just remind you that you’re not alone by challenging you to a round of MvC2, talking anime and comics with you, or getting together to head down the street to Mcdonalds or Ten Ren for a snack and some company.

I can’t believe Chinatown Fair is gone. And while we all have to grow up, this one part of my life, and the lives of many others across numerous generations, that I think many of us would have never thought would go away.

I miss Chinatown Fair. I’ll never forget everything you meant to me. Thank you, old friend.

I wonder if the end of the last Internet cafe in Asia will garner this kind of sentimentality? I'm trying to imagine what it'd be like to see two aging Korean Starcraft champions going at it one last time on a pair of yellowing Alienware boxes, just for old time's sake, but all I can see is a pair of world-weary veterans playing chess in the park.

Play. It's not just for children, isn't it. Never has been.
Tags: games

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