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October 2015 Retro Gaming Article


October 17, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Melding redemption with arcade video games - can Videmption be a good thing?

Not long ago an odd Flappy Bird amusement appeared in one of my local arcades. I'm usually quick to ignore such things as I'm now accustomed to mobile games being expanded into enormous arcade machines as well as the vast array of ticket-spewing redemption models. However this machine was a hybrid I'd never seen and I posted a few pics of it.

It was an instant merchandise machine displaying various "prizes" around the periphery of the monitor... wait what? Yes, this contraption had a video monitor against the back wall and prizes abounded behind a large glass window. It was the first combination of video game and redemption that I'd seen. Not long after I read an article about Videmption. Yikes.

Pindemption - Pinball Redemption

Earlier this year I heard the term Pindempton regarding a Wizard Of Oz pinball table from Jersey Jack Pinball that could be outfitted with a ticket reel system for redemption. To see redemption spread to actual video games - to the point where it has the moniker, Videmption - is a new hurdle for me.

Regardless of the types of amusements on the floor, I admire anyone who runs/owns an arcade these days. While I'm excited about the barcade and retro movements that focus on games from my arcade life in the 80s, keeping an arcade fiscally sound is a tough job these days. I understand the financial reasons behind the change in arcades from gaming to redemption and the competition to arcades posed by home game consoles. That doesn't make me nostalgic for the simpler days of arcades.

The Ever Changing Arcade Model

Classic arcade games As a teenager in the 80s we loved playing video games. Arcades were the primary source, although we found some choice games in various restaurants and other businesses. I could play Asteroids at home on my Atari 2600, but I knew damn well that the version in the arcade was much better. Playing at home was fun and convenient, but was nowhere near the experience of being at the arcade.

I watched as arcades changed and the home gaming scene rocketed upward in technology. Today there are generations of kids who grew up with great games at home and have no knowledge of how awesome arcades were or can become. Younger gamers consider gaming with friends on an Internet connection to be "playing with friends". Look around - you're alone.

In my day you weren't playing with friends unless they were on your couch getting Cheese Doodle dust all over your controllers. At the arcades we loved the co-op games like Joust, Rampage, and Wizard of Wor. This led to multiplayer arcade games being the standard as multiplayer fighting games like Street Fighter came along. Even at that stage, arcades were the best place to get the real experience.

Classic Arcades

Classic arcade games What we loved about playing arcade games were the amazing places a game could take your mind. From blasting Asteroids to navigating Zaxxon or entering a Stargate - playing these games was fun. For 25 cents we could venture into a place that gave us the freedom to conquer alien armies, save a princess, and evade Evil Otto.

When kids packed into an arcade and the neon lights were aglow amongst all the attract mode sights and sounds, there was a vibe in the air that was unlike anything else we'd ever seen.

The experience was the "prize". These games were fun! We didn't need a cheap toy at the end to brighten the experience. We wanted to put in anther quarter for more time in the amazing worlds created on those CRT screens.

Can Videmption be a Good Thing?

I despise redemption because the majority of games are simply random flashing lights and poor odds of getting lots of tickets. Most of these games have zero skill and are 100% games of chance. You'd think that these machines would be regulated under gambling laws - as pinball once was only a few decades ago! You don't even get a decent play experience.

Ghost Town videmption video game The notion behind pindemption is more of a value-add than traditional redemption. At least you get to play pinball (often with a different set of rules that shorten the game).

Looking at the Ghost Town videmption machine - it looks like fun! A four-player shooter might create a good gaming experience... that also doles out tickets. Such amusements use redemption as a lure rather than the entire experience. Videmption amusements, that I've seen, seem to let you play video games. I'm not against videmption as long as it provides a good gaming experience that challenges and engages the player.

I'm tired of seeing kids push a button or pull a lever and stand idly waiting to see how many tickets pour out. It seems as though the kid walking around with the largest jumble of tickets in their ars is the "cool kid". I want kids to cherish the game play. If that generates tickets, that's fine. I want them to have fun playing games rather than exchanging money for tokens to get tickets to buy cheap toys at the redemption counter. I challenge my son to everything from Skee Ball to Time Crisis and air hockey. We play together and then go to Toys R Us to see what they have. To me this is much better than garnering cheap toys via redemption tickets.

However, redemption is here to stay (for the time being), but the notion that it might be used as an add-on to real gaming experiences is hopeful. As long as arcade games provide a great gaming challenge, I can't complain about redemption. I hope such amusements push the zero-skill ticket spitting cabinets out of arcades. Offering arcade owners a path to financial stability while delivering great gaming will be a win for all involved.

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