Reflex- or twitch-based videogames are a lot like visual art or music in a lot of ways, particularly in that they don’t depend on language to communicate ideas effectively. A good game is good, no matter if you speak English, Russian, or Bengali.
Consider, for example, an “arcade” in Darjeeling, India (7,000 ft. above sea level), where some kid absolutely wiped the floor with blogger Lee Bradley during a few rounds of Street Fighter Alpha 3. Bradley explains that the kid “didn’t understand English, but he understood Street Fighter.” I think that sentence alone describes part of the reason that people love videogames so much.
I have to put arcade in quotation marks because it wasn’t an arcade as much as it was a bunch of PlayStations, some old televisions, and a wall of pirated software and photocopied box art. The best part about the arcade, though — besides breaking the language barrier and learning about another culture and all that sentimental jazz — is the beverage service: “For just a few rupees the young boy that ran the arcade would grab the game of your choice, pop it into a PlayStation and keep you topped up with cups of Darjeeling’s finest.” If snacks and tasty beverages had been an integral part of American arcades, they’d still be with us today and I wouldn’t have to go all the way to Den Den Town (or, apparently, Darjeeling) to play some games.
Anyway, the entire piece, over at Bitmob, is a great read, and I really encourage you guys to check it out. If you need some more convincing, Bitmob is the new project from some of the people that got burned by the Ziff Davis-UGO fiasco. “The Highest Arcade in the World” is only one of what I expect to be many engaging pieces coming from over there.