For the thrill of it

Gaming parlours

Video game parlours don’t come as they used to. The feeling of playing arcade games, be it Pacman or simulation rides or air hockey, is a bygone feeling.

The City still has a few places where one can enjoy these guilty pleasures of childhood but the numbers are far and few. It’s hard to forget Wonderland and Amoeba as the cool kids’ hangout — with nerds having their own corner while the jocks would be busy shooting hoops or using all their muscles to win stuffed teddy bears for their girlfriend. 

One of the surviving arcades, Amoeba continues to be a popular haunt. RS Dharmendhar, GM, Bangalore operations of Amoeba, explains that the reason for this is the experience it offers. “The feeling here is different because of the graphics, sound and enjoyment of physically riding a bike in a game compared to pressing the joystick and exercising your thumb. In ‘Battle Gear’, for instance, one gets the actual experience of driving a car and you’re even trained to shift gears,” he says. 

Asked about the competition faced, he states, “We are our own competition. We’ve got some popular old games but also look out for new ones. There’s no other pure family entertainment centre around that appeals to people of all ages.” He adds that the most popular games are ‘Battle Gear’, ‘Super Bikes 2’ and ticket redemption games.

But today, Amoeba remains the exception to the rule, with ‘gaming parlours’ now implying games like Grand Theft Auto (GTA), Defense of the Ancients (DotA) and FIFA. At The Living Room, a gaming lounge with Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii consoles, people of all ages come to enjoy a good game or simply a drink. Mohan Mahadeviah, the owner, says that such parlours were the new trend when he opened in 2008. “Back then, only PC games were prominent.

 The argument was that people wouldn’t come out to play games that they had at home. But gaming is more of a social activity where even 16 people can be connected on the network and play together. The systems are so advanced these days that the latest versions of a game get downloaded automatically,” he explains, adding that console gaming is the way forward.

“We have a laid back atmosphere where we don’t have hardcore gamers who sit for 16 hours and play. We get a crowd that ranges from seven to 40. Our annual FIFA tournaments are a bit hit and another factor that works in our favour is that customers can get food delivered from all around the neighbourhood,” he adds.

Youngsters offer varied opinions, with some being nostalgic about the bygone arcades and others preferring the new action-packed version of entertainment. Nitish, a gamer, admits that he has never enjoyed the arcade experience. “I started with the Playstation 2 and am now into the Xbox. The games using these consoles are just more powerful and engaging,” he says. 

Others like Sanjay, a student, prefer the old-school games. “I miss the look of retro arcade games and the thrill in winning them because there were always tickets that could be redeemed for gifts. But there’s no denying that modern games have their own pull, especially Halo and GTA,” he concludes. 

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