Competitive gaming formed in front of an arcade cabinet [1980s]
When I was 11 years old my parents signed me up for a local Jiujitsu club. I was a really scrawny little ginger nerd, they hoped martial arts would give me more self-confidence. Also, they desperately wanted me to do more than sit in front of my computer for every waking moment of my life. Parents are stupid.
I would ride my bicycle to training on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, regardless of snow, rain, storm, I never once missed a practice session.
Armed with my weekly cash allowance to buy drinks/snacks and pay the membership fee, nothing could stop me from going to the dojo. My allowance got bigger over time, like a silent gold star for finally doing a physical activity.
I lied, for years.
I never actually sat foot in that Jiujitsu dojo.
I devoted Tuesday and Thursday evenings to my church. To my place of worship: The arcade hall.
Back then, my main source of meeting people. We were all drawn to the electrified arena, where nerds came to demonstrate and practice in-game performance in public, to master their game in front of a live audience.
To find the best.
In 1986 this was a player experience unlike anything else in the world, especially if you played to win.
All spectacle begins with spectatorship, obviously.
This is where competitive gaming and the pursuit of personal mastery began.
I eventually achieved godlike hi-scores for OutRun, Gryzor, Bubble Bobble, Jackal and others. Like all hi-scores: zero value today.
Like all hi-scores: Worth.
Fearing domestic oppression and religious persecution, I hid the obvious signs of my arcade awakening and masked the divine digital blessings from the non-believing grownup minds in the family. Anything to avoid getting caught, grounded, killed, dumped. So, execution took place without the ritualistic sacrifice of micropayments in coin-operated Alters, hypnotically humming, vibrating and radiating holy 16bit light and shimmering god rays that identify sacred gameplay loops.
After 3 years, the Great Arcade Deception was discovered.
I was 14 when it happened. For most of that day, I didn't think I would make it to the day after.
GURU MEDITATION. The impact of WHATDIDYOUDOFOR3YEARS?! released enough energy to offset reality by 0,3% and cause runtime glitches in the observer effect. Syntax errors affected cascades of micro-suspensions in gravity, magnetism and colors in the blue frequency range.
Random nullifications of all bio electrical impulses and executive functioning in sphincters and dense muscles across the quadrant.