My small 1UP debut for cover stories:
Freelancing at the local newspaper, The Daily Breeze
Prep Football at the High School level, stat-collecting, interviews, and game recaps.
“The next stop is Mong Kok.”
The MTR train’s speakers announced its next stop to the passengers. A group of girls, with short skirts and heavily scented perfumes, pushed through to the exit. As the train stopped, the girls stopped watching the phone that was playing a music video with an ambiguous male singer. As they stepped out to the Mong Kok exit, a group of boys wearing matching blue and white uniforms entered the train. Reaching the surface of the MTR, the first scene was the plaza of the “New Town Mall.” This is one of the biggest stops in the Hong Kong arcade scene.
Those that look down on the people at Mong Kok bestowed the nickname the “MKers” because of the majority high school/early college-goers. The normal crowds and peak visitors are primarily here to shop for clothes, shoes, and to hang out in random spots around open malls. Most sported the latest fashions – jeans with an extra flap for the crotch for boys and skimpy skirts for girls. So, where are the arcades? They’re underground and in the middle of many youth-centered malls. They’re through smoke clouds and security guards.
Hong Kong’s scene is not a successful community, yet. The checklist for HK’s community chances looks fine. There are many different arcades that provide new fighting games at a fairly cheap price (between $3-5 Hong Kong dollars). There are several forums, like HKFighter.com, for the community to communicate as well. There are even some World-renowned names within the group to give it some notoriety: Johnny “HumanBomb” Cheng and online sensation, Joe “GameOutttt” Lau. The crowds at arcades are populated with coins constantly on deck to play the winner, but there are no consistent familiar faces. Despite the resources available, it lacks organization. There isn’t a real method for reaching out. For the most part, HK has been too scattered and unmotivated to cultivate the available talent.
“There’s less support in Hong Kong. People are not willing to pay for events,” Cheng said. “It’s not enough. You can’t just have the top 10 players playing the game; we need the middle as well.”
“The types of people who are open to helping are only those that actually come up to us and ask. In Singapore, I saw many people who were willing to just help, but in HK I don’t see that here. It’s a different mentality,” Kenny “CarzyDog” So said.
Kenny So’s been one of the driving forces in the HK fighting game scene since his move from Singapore. He started on the board for HKFighter and worked with just two other members to try to spread the community and grow the player base. Despite his ties with the Singapore fighting game community, it’s been a slow and arduous beginning.
Just having a quantity of arcades and players is not enough. The communication must be done well for something to really have potential. Community-building has several strong examples for emulation: the budding scenes in Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal), the USA, (California and New York) and Europe (England, France, and Germany). The ingredients for reaching out can be simple (network at your hang-out, spread the news on a website to gather and create an event) or complex (online plays with a local group, create consistent tournaments or events at various venues). HK is in a good location with good players to spread out, but there also must be a good situation and some luck.
“HK does have relationships with Mainland China,” So said. “But the tournaments in Mainland do not get a lot of exposure.”
“Here in HK, there are only one or two tournaments a year,” Cheng said. “HK players are not well-known. Only one or two, but we are very good.”
HK’s community lacks a real consistent way of providing information to enthusiasts. There are forums that gather the most hardcore together, but the casual and new crowds hardly visit. There is also the problem of casual and enthused players with no centralized hub like other communities (Arcade UFO in Texas, Next Level in New York, and Super Arcade in California). The simple task of meeting up with anyone is a matter of luck or coincidence, unless you’re with a group of friends already. The big questions preventing HK from building are not related to the number of players, but a way to translate and reach everyone. What if a potential community had the arcades but just not the consistent players to meet and greet?
My first published story (edits never actually happened)
Last Game *
For now, let’s take away the words “death” and “arcade” together in the same sentence. Arcades, in remembrance, are the places where games are the main feature. There is nothing to buy but two-minutes of entertainment and hours of conversations with people of similar interests. It is that secret society where reality suspends itself and the only time is the timer that ticks down on the video game screen.
The reality, unfortunately, is that the arcade scene in America is ready to die. Its final gasps exist through the communities that come to enjoy these relics of gaming. Finding these elusive businesses require someone with previous experience and knowledge of its locations. One of the more beloved arcades in the last ten years is huddled away in the corner of a plaza of tea shops, Chinese restaurants and karaoke bars. It exists for the sole reason to bring entertainment and stands as one of the most iconic buildings in the short history of arcades in America. The ushering of Arcade Infinity brings about stories spanning from massive rhythm game tournaments to large local Street Fighter events.
Here’s the “blog” portion of this showcase to even out the plugging of my work. Since IGN and Level|Up is on hiatus for me, I’m just focusing on some other freelancing work, specifically RotoAnalysis.com and MLB Daily Dish.
I’m applying to a job a day to keep from feeling too unproductive. The amount of no-replies are as quick as the applications, I believe. Maybe it’s time to try for entry-level jobs instead of going for what I believe are mid-level. Too bad.
I can link one more thing, my blog, but the grammatical errors and lack of updates would just link it to a dead site.
Will be returning soon to IGN.com’s blogs for Level|Up when the fourth season starts at Super Arcade. My hope is that I can successfully parlay this into a full-time, or even part-time, job at the big boy website. Heaven knows I’ve been asking for luck.
An example of my lit journalism intros for the blogs (just some fun descriptions):
Every spot of parking around Super Arcade was occupied. In front of the building, a crowd of players formed below the neon green sign. Two screens, lined up on the windows, illuminated the people outside. Outside, there was a constant stream of conversation wafting the night air. Inside, groups of people huddled around each monitor where casual gaming was played. Alex “Calipower” Valle called out the time and the start of the tournament. At the sound of his voice, the fighting gamers outside scrambled inside to hear their names.
I recently received an opportunity to continue to pad my portfolio at a fantasy sports website, TheFantasyFix.com as a weekly recap columnist. While the parting was too soon, it was still a solid platform that continued exposure.
Also, the archived list for my written works are not 100 percent complete.