Strong Fellowship – Day 3

Second day in the archives was spent going through more copies of Play Meter. I looked through all the issues prior to 1982 – there is a huge chunk missing between 1977 and 1980, and there are many issues from ’80 and ’81 missing. Thankfully, there are some very useful issues in the collection, such as the December 1984 one celebrating the 10th anniversary of the magazine, and the year in reviews along with the yearly surveys are also very useful, as they list performances for the entire year as well as the top 10 news events.

Coin operators were terribly spooked in 1982 about local and state legislation against coin-op games, a problem that plagued the industry since the 1930s when New York and LA banned pinballs. Due to their associations with organized crime and gambling, as well as the poor reputations of arcades, states often charge exhorbitant and unfair taxes on coin operated machines, too. So Play Meter saw this as the largest threat to the industry in 1982 – moreso than the glut of machines (particularly duplicates and clones) that caused coin op to take a serious hit in June 1982. These problems of anti-arcade legislation began around 1981 and seem to correlate with the dramatic increase in market power in that year.

I also really enjoy the yearly buyer’s guides, which list the models of pinball, video game, electromechanical, jukebox, and pool tables available for purchase – often from a span of 5 yars. Each model currently on the market is listed, along with the year it wand month it was released. So this is a fantastic picture of what was available at the time.

I also got to see the video transfer of the Tomorrow…Today! episode titled “Games Futurists Play”. I brought this to the attention of JP Dyson and the Strong staff. It’s a Walter Cronkite documentary. There are no videogames here, but it does cover several role-playing games (one to address the shock homeless people have upon returning to the workforce, one on running a city, and a third on communicating information and difficulty of sharing ideas). I feel it is a quite useful documentary for analyzing persuasive games and socially conscious games, as the players certainly took away useful lessons (although the “chronic homeless” game was terribly racially biased).

One other thing I realized is that using a digital camera was probably not the best way of recording things. My iPad may have far less storage, but the advantage here is that I can immediately see what I take pictures of when I use my iPad, including the quality of the image – how blurry it is. With the camera, I have to wait until I plug it into a computer (not really possible until I get home). For this reason, I will use my iPad to scan articles that seem far more important, such as the 10th anniversary article summarizing the past 10 years of the coin operated industry. The biggest problem I see with the iPad though is the interface – there is no button or series of button presses that will allow you to view other software currently running as a sort of ‘tabbed browsing’ to multitask or at least quickly switch between apps. Pressing the home button, then clicking on your desired app is twice as many actions as necessary since you’re going from looking at one app to looking at your desktop to looking at another app and back. I can imagine if Steve Jobs had wanted that, he would have yelled loudly and often enough until it was done.

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