Friday, September 22, 2006

Your Gods Are Not My Gods

The following story happened in march 2006.

My current job is a small group of people, who, like me, have all pretty much come from the coin-op world. One of the benefits of this is that when there's a chance, we usually hit the one of the two coin-op trade shows (ASI and AMOA) that occurs during the year. That gives us a chance to see what's currently going on in the old arcade business, meet up with old co-workers, etc. Generally, I like to think of the coin-op biz to be fairly incestuous; and once you are in, it seems to be very hard to get out. It's pretty amazing that given how far the coin-op market has slumped since we left it, and still see the exact same people still in it, preservering somehow.

Anyway, while most people at this point know about Dance Dance Revolution, there's a nasty little secret I've learned from a co-worker. According to his son, DDR, isn't really the big thing anymore; it's too easy. The hot dance game, in actuality is In the Groove. And the possibilty of going to a trade show to play this game on Free Play is quite a big deal for him.

A Quick Side Note here that has nothing to do with the rest of the story: Even though the trade show is pretty much "industry only," it doesn't take too much intelligence to magically work for some industry-related company by creating a bogus business card and get into these shows. Heck, they still have these problems at E3, and those guys supposedly really try to crack down on that; at these trade shows, they are more than happy to take your $40 badge fee for any hand-written "AAA Arcade Corp." scrawl on a card. So, there were quite a few local dance game players who spent their money for an entire weekend of free "gettin' jiggy with it" action. Also, it should be noted that these guys are GOOD! Scary good. Do a YouTube search for DDR dances and it's pretty frightening.

One other Quick Side Note. The competing dance game companies also usually hire shills to come out and dance on their games during the show. Apparently, the shills that the DDR guys hired wound up spending most of their off-time playing In The Groove instead.

Now back to the show! Anyway, my co-worker's son winds up talking to some guy from the company that makes In The Groove. And it turns out it's the guy who programmed the dance steps. Suddenly, stars get in his eyes, and he's all amazed that he's ACTUALLY TALKING TO THE GUY WHO PROGRAMMED THAT DANCE STEPS!!! And the guy gave him his e-mail address. He is a god!!!!

My co-worker starts reminding his son that we have many contacts with the "coin-op gods". And that for the last 10 years he could've introduced his son to some of the guys who worked on Mortal Kombat, NBA Blitz, and a whole slew of other Midway titles. Heck, our boss co-wrote Defender, Stargate, and Robotron. We know the guy who was the first person to put the flippers at the bottom of a pinball machine in pretty much the standard location where they've been for the last 50 years. We know the guys who did the Crusin' games, who are now off doing Fast and Furious and Target Terror as pretty much the only Americal pure arcade games left. We have fairly close contacts with virtually all pinball designers of the last 20 years or so.

His reply: "But this is the guy who did the dance steps in for In The Groove."

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