Features// Girl Gamer Goes To The Pub

A two litre bottle of Shasta and my ‘All Rush’ mix tape. Let’s rock!

Posted 18 Jun 2007 11:48 by
And f*cking well stay down!
And f*cking well stay down!
This week I took what I hoped would be a nostalgic and rejuvenating jaunt around the pubs and bars of Leeds, aiming to do an arcade crawl. As a kid I would slam pounds and pounds into my local’s arcade machines (of which there were two, changing games every two months or so) and all this in the sleepy hamlet’s Working Men’s Club.

It seems that arcades are not as loved as once they were; instead of platform games and steering wheels, Bully and Chris Tarrant taunt me with questions about celebrities and other tepid trivia.

Also, I’ve been quitting smoking this week, so being in a selection of my favourite scuzzy haunts and drinking establishments with neither alcohol (to preserve my skills of judgment) nor death-stick has been quite tough.

Also, Wolfman…

Regretting my decision to wear boots made of a soft, grey jersey material with foot-width splits across the, at best, minimally protective soles, I traipse like a female Withnail through the be-puddled streets with wet hair, wet socks, wet everything, in search of a pub with an arcade game.

It takes six pubs and some rather strange looks before I find the first candidate: Stacker - made by Lai games. I doubt at first whether it should be included as it has the graphics capability of a microwave, but it wins me over with the lure of a DS for only 50p!

£6.50 later and I step back to rationalise the situation. This is seriously addictive stuff. A few drinks in me and I’d pound money into this like a trophy wife. This is Tetris’ antithesis, all you have to do is stack the blocks to the top. Simple. There are two prize levels, but once you reach the first you must either take the piddling prize or risk it all to go for the big ones.

Since I no longer take drugs, my need for either a flashing bracelet/keyring or a terrifying monkey-inna-cage-onna-string is limited. I always play on. It hasn’t been hard up to there, but then, in the way of all pub games designed to take money from the unwitting or witless, it suddenly becomes infinitely harder.

I drink up, wring out my boots and move on. I know full well that there is some kind of sit-in driving game at the Met bar, but it is closed! On a Wednesday!? At six o’clock!? What has the world come to? So, I strut to my favourite retro drinking establishment where I know for a fact that there are arcade games which I have previously been too far gone to appreciate in full. The first is Site 4. All the signs are good: the familiar Atari logo smiles down at me, a hand-written note stuck to the front informs me that it has flashing strobe lights, and Three Little Pigs by Green Jelly comes on the juke box.

As I pop in my £1 I feel like the Fonz. An old-fashioned Duck Hunt-style shooter in my hand, I aim with ridiculous ease at the equally arcane alien creatures popping up from behind crates. I can’t help feeling like they’re all so angry because their agent didn’t get them that part in Men In Black, which they were just born for.

So, I’m sweeping through rooms with no control of my movements (yes, just like at the weekend), disappointed by what Parental Guidance promised would be oodles of ‘strong graphic violence’, when I shoot one lousy human and am informed it’s “Game Over”.

The fact that I’m screaming “You f-ing rapist!” at the screen does nothing to counter my shambolic appearance. As a wise man once said: “Note to self re: being the Fonz. You are not the Fonz”.

Next up is Star Wars Arcade – Episode IV, an old-skool joystick and trigger affair with an invert look and massive screen, I am given a simple task: Destroy the Death Star. Fine, I die in about two minutes. How did I pump so much money into these as a kid? IIRC it was ten pence a go and cans of Sunkist came cheap.

My wrists hurt; it’s like getting Wii Tennis elbow all over again.

One last game - a table arcade. I rest my pint of lemonade, and check the options. I feel my heart rate increase. 50p for one game, £1 for three – this is more like it! I check the games. My knees buckle. Pacman, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Mr Do, Xevious, Bomb Jack, Gore, Wiz. I scrabble in my purse for change. With sweaty palms I paw out the requisite coinage and go to insert it. Nothing. I try again. It’s jammed. I check at the bar. Yes. Yes, it’s jammed. I feel like crying.

I wander back onto the tired, wet and dirty streets and start the long walk back to my car. Arcade games ain’t what they used to be, at least in this part of the world.

Don't forget to read the other adventures of Girl Gamer:

Girl Gamer Goes With The flOw

Girl Gamer: This Week Halo 3

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