Get learned: Arcade Mania: The Turbo-charged World of Japan’s Game Centers

You know those crane games they have inside movie theaters and sports bars in North America? The ones with the seemingly impossible-to-get Batman stuffed toys? They’re huge in Japanese arcades. Who knew? 

Certainly not me, so it’s a good thing I had a chance to finish reading through Arcade Mania: The Turbo-charged World of Japan’s Game Centers during my “holiday break.” The first chapter details the strange culture of crane games, or “UFO Catchers” as they’re somtimes known as in Japan. It’s a world where skill, not luck, factors into whether you’ll make the catch, so much so that heated claw-machine competition exists. Seriously. 

Written by Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft with contributions from former Wired Game|Life writer Jean Snow, Arcade Mania is 192 pages of an educational and entertaining account of Japanese arcade history and culture. From rhythm games to popular fighters to sticker machines, Arcade Mania does an amazing job of covering it all, with fun facts, interviews, and more. There’s even tips from a professional crane-game player, in case you’re set on actually grabbing that plush Batman from your local Red Robin’s claw-machine.

Oh, and for those of you scared by words, there’s plenty of pretty pictures to look at, too. The book is available for purchase online at Amazon, or you can get more info at the book’s official Web site.

Nick Chester