The harsh glowing lights, the sounds of buttons mashing and aggressive DDR dancing, the sweet musk of body odor. My senses were overwhelmed the first time I walked into a Korean arcade. I think it goes without saying that arcades have always held a soft spot in my heart. They remind of going to the mall with my mom when I was younger and the Jersey shore. At home, arcades are usually found in malls or movie theaters, are a little expensive, and seem to have crappy games that no one wants to pay a dollar to play. As you can probably guess this is not the case here in Korea. Arcades seem to be popular, which was a bit of a surprise to me considering how popular computer games are over here. I suppose it's the culture transcending appeal of getting away from your parents and hanging out with your friends that allows places like arcades to thrive, especially in Korea. The games are very cheap (about 300 won to play until you lose) and the room is always filled with groups of people. You can usually find an arcade with a little bit of searching no matter where you are, but it's best to look around college towns or anywhere younger people hang out. The arcades often have a nice variety of games ranging from old school favorites like Tetris and Galaca (an 80's game where you have to shoot down invading alien space ships) to crazy rhythmic hand games that I've never seen before. So far, the main attraction at every arcade I've been to is Tekken (a fighting game). They usually have about six or more machines lined up back to back where you sit down and fight the person who is on the opposite side from you. It's interesting because the arcades will often have really old versions of late 90's Tekken as well as the newest release and they will usually are all busy. This is why I usually stick to Galaga and the older games. A little known secret of mine is that Galaga is one of my all time favorite games. Nearly two decades of off and on training has enabled me to hone my skills to the point where I feel confident in saying I'm one of the better 1980's star fighters out there. I have science on my side because I've been setting Korea on fire with high scores in nearly every arcade I visit. A man can only achieve so many high scores before he becomes bored and needs to find a new challenge. I've played Tekken a few times before so I figured what better place to start my new high score run than the saving-the-world-from-an-evil-overlord-by-fighting-in-a-hand-to-hand-tournament department. Things went relatively well when I tried my hand at the newest Tekken and almost beat a battle hardened real life Korean person (and no, I'm not talking about Deborah). The people were poking around the side of the machines to see who they were playing and were a bit surprised to see me sitting there. After my near victory I was feeling pretty cocky so I thought I would go for a rematch. I lost three straight fights in a row, the last one without even hitting the other guy once. I stood up a little confused and humbled and decided to go back to playing Galaga.
Me almost not getting my ass kicked.
And these are the young guys who did the ass kicking, the one in green specifically. His friends did the peaking.
This is one of the hand pattern games people play. I don't really know who it works but it looks like DDR but you play with you hands. There are a lot of games like this and the people are always really good, like kind of embarrassing that you're so good good.
Thanks for reading,
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