Despite the presence of GTA4 in my Xbox 360 and a bunch of pressing work and blog issues, I have been playing a lot more MAME arcade games lately. I have always been a fan, well a pretty big fan, but lately its starting to border on maniacal. From Amidar to Zaxxon, you name the game and in the last month I have played it on this very computer.
I guess it doesn’t take a degree in psychology to reason out why I run to these games when my life is filled with stress and chaos. They were developed in a time period that I am obviously fond of and their design is perfect for the occupied mind. The immediacy of the joystick play and the rapid progression of difficulty forces you to commit to their game system far more quickly then you would on new games that are designed to give you 10+ hours. Sure I can cruise around in the sandbox of Liberty City for a few hours, doing missions and collecting rewards, but the game system is such that you have intense moments of immersion followed by several minutes of very cool, but distraction filled driving/running.
Now in the same hour, I can fire up Pac-Man and I am instantly in the Pac World. The only breaks are brief screen loads and short animated cut scenes that give you just enough time to wipe the sweat off your hands and jump into the next level. Because they don’t require much of a learning curve you can achieve the much sought after gamers trance. These games are relentless and they requires arcade game discipline. Luckily I was born at the right time to acquire that discipline, because as an adult I could never do it.
Don’t get me wrong I love all games and some of these new game are just what I dreamed about when I was going to see Tron for the third time in the theater. But if your mind is cluttered and you need a break from the world , I am talking total distraction from reality. Why not download MAME or even better hunt down your local arcade and drop a few bucks on some of the classics.