Friday, December 27, 2013

Nelson Charity Tournament, Christmas hell, and Super Arcade's status

So its the now December 27th, the morning after we just held our so-called Special Edition of The Runback tourney, and for many reasons I cannot sleep and just feel completely horrible.  I originally wanted to use this blog to discuss the importance of arcade social life and the amazing competitiveness that comes from our great community, but now I am sitting here at 10am writing my thoughts because my stress levels are too high and my moral is officially at rock bottom.  It's really hard to put into words how torn I feel to be a failing arcade owner who's literally done anything and everything in my power to keep Super Arcade alive.  I have actually done more than even I expected and to have this place not generate enough income to support itself has truly become a huge burden on me.  Originally this problem wasn't all that bad because I believed I had enough to work with to get through the slow days and bad months, but when these days and months start becoming the norm then the problems and the bills start piling up.  I am not sure if I mentioned this in my previous entries, but I have literally not paid myself a single cent since May of this year.  That's almost five months of work without pay.  For a person not living under their parents roof, and don't get me wrong to those of you who do, it's just an example, just imagine what it's like to have to pay your all your bills and not have any income.  I have had to juggle money left and right just to keep Super open and put aside everything else just so I could pay the electric bill, the lease, the bill for internet service, and also provide a very meager wage to keep my last employee.  I told myself I would never discuss my struggles publicly but I am at the breaking point and if not for myself and a release of stress, I owe it to our loyal customers and the people who helped out previously to just be in the know of what's going on.

Over the past week many things have happened, things including the Christmas holiday, the unfortunate death of a very loved member of the FGC, Nelson Reyes aka EMP_Remix, and some personal issues I had encountered.  I will first discuss nelson's passing out of respect and importance because there is obviously nothing more important than a person losing their life.  I won't turn this into a full blown eulogy but I will say his death has definitely woken me up and made me ask myself the question, what am I doing here?  I won't sit here and be a poser and claim me and Nelson were best friends, or even close to good acquaintances, but we definitely had our interactions and I can say he was a very animated and positive person and I will never forget meeting him.  Even during my own rough times and the during what's truly a down time for the arcade, we will be hosting a charity tournament in his honor in hopes of raising more money for his funeral costs.  I was originally approached with this idea from a gentleman by the name of Shankar and with his efforts along with my crew here, we are hoping this event will do it's job and Nelson can Rest In Peace.  The tourney will be held on Saturday, January 4th 2014 and will include both Marvel vs Capcom 2 at 5pm, and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 at 7pm.  I hope many people will attend this not only to show support for the community, but also during times like this many bonds are made and good deeds overshadow bad times and hopefully a sense of happiness will fill the room.  I don't have a clue as to how I can transition over to my next issue cause in a sense I feel like I'm changing the subject and swaying from what matters most.

So this year's Christmas has been an extremely difficult one for me to swallow.  I don't think I realized exactly how tough it was until last night when people just asked me casually how my holidays were going and if I enjoyed Christmas.  I'm not sure if people were surprised with my answers or not but I don't think I even replied once in a very positive manner and I guess that's the time I truly realized that I am tearing myself up.  This Christmas has absolutely, positively, and without a doubt been the absolute low in my life.  I can honestly say I bought zero presents for anyone in my family and I did this out of respect.  I didn't mention this before but I have had to borrow money from friends just to keep Super Arcade open.  I have literally gone into debt just to keep this place alive for the community while making sacrifices in every other part of life.  These sacrifices are fine if you are only taking away from self wants and needs, but when they start to affect people around you, and you are taking away from them too, now we have a very serious issue.  It brings a serious tear to my eye as I type this but since I'm keeping everything completely honest I want the readers to know how bad it is.  So I wound up not getting anything for even my wife and my eighteen month old kid, but that's not to say I didn't try.  I made one of those half ass last ditch efforts and went online to pick something out, but guess what?  My credit cards were all maxed out........  Now tell me this, how bad can things possibly be when you cant even charge $150 on your credit to buy a Christmas gift for your own immediate family?  I have literally spent everything I have, sold personal items including jewelry, watches, and even pawned a family heirloom just to keep an arcade alive.  And for what?  So I can see a dwindling turnout week in and week out?  So I can see my investment crashing and burning right before my own eyes?  Don't get me wrong, we do have some extremely loyal customers here and these guys make an unquestioned effort to support as much as possible, but, these rare people are far too few to keep things running.  I do want to take the time to say thank you to this small group and tell you guys that you have honestly motivated me and just in effort alone helped me work harder to keep this sinking ship afloat.  I honestly want to pop off at the fake people out there, the one's that always come around when it's too late, the people that are always first to say things like "oh man, it's so sad this place is gone," or "wow, I can't believe this place is closing."  The list goes on and on and but you know what?  The people who were here week in and week out, you know who you are and just know you have done as much as you could possible to help out here.

Super Arcade is 100% without a doubt on thin ice right now.  I cannot and will not sugarcoat this so if you really do care you better start doing it now.  There were a couple instances where I was really close to just shutting it down for good and walking away.  Right before the Ultra SF4 location test I told a couple people that I had a goal in terms of money brought in for that weekend, and if I didn't reach it I was done for good.  This was probably the first time I had set anything like this and it was serious enough that for the first time the people surrounding me took notice that Super Arcade might really be closing.  See, the whole thing with this place is that this community has a huge place in my heart.  It's comparable to that notion of first love, and we all know you never ever forget your true first love.  I have poured my heart, my soul, and everything I own into Super Arcade but now it just feels like I am not receiving the love back and I'm trying to hard to force things to happen.  What else can I do at this point?  A couple weeks ago for our Thursday tourney, the turnout was so low that I was five minutes away from telling people to come get their money back and I would be closing early that night.  Around 9:10pm we had something like 15 people for Marvel and like 3 or 4 for Killer Instant, BlazBlue, and Guilty Gear.  I was not going to stay open till 3am and run a tourney for such a poor turnout, and being as it may seem selfish this was definitely a time where I felt I had to put my foot down and set an example for these guys.  If you do not want to come support, then there is no reason to have a place for you to play.  Fortunately for everyone in the next 5 minutes the turnouts doubled for every game........ amazing right?  And there's another story of how TRB survived that week and just how close everything is to crumbling.

And just in case some of you can't read between the lines, if you want to support the arcade please show up consistently.  Whether it be once a week to our WNF or TRB tourney, or Friday for our console casuals, or even for our weekend tourneys, just show some support, that's all we ask.  I normally don't like being specific on names or singling out people in general because I feel its unfair to others and causes issues, but in this case I want to thank the 2 most loyal customers we have here and let the community know how outstanding their dedication is to our local scene.  First I would like to thank Team Seaslug, as I know for a fact he comes to almost every single Wednesday Night Fight, every single Friday Night Casual, and just about every Saturday tourney we host for SF4.  Hell, he even started coming to some of our anime game tourneys, now that is some major dedication and you sir are greatly appreciated.  I would also like to thank Infrit for his ridiculous support too.  This man shows up almost every Thursday for TRB and attends just about every Friday Night as well.  Our tourneys end very late and I know both these guys have real jobs and work the morning after so to question their drive would be foolish.  Both of you have my utmost respect and you set an example that very few can follow.  So what's everyone else's excuse?  And like I said before, I really don't like singling out people and there are definitely a few more guys that haven't gone unnoticed, but these two really take the cake and I just wanted to publicly thank you.

This post has really taken a lot out of me and I do have a final plan I will be announcing that will hopefully turn things around, but until then thanks for reading and more to come soon.  Next post will definitely include future plans and more updates on the current status of the arcade.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The raffle/donation drive and whatever I can fit into this post.

So I ended my previous entry on a bit of a downer but did promise that there was some light at the end of the tunnel.  If you have experienced any hardships in life you will know that your true friends and people who care come to show their true colors during these rough times.  I found out a lot about myself and also unfortunately found out too much about some people around me.  As promised I would not reveal certain names of individuals as maybe that person didn't realize at the time what they were doing, or not doing, which led to some hard feelings.  So moving on with this chapter........

Its near the end of January and I have basically what is an empty room with barely enough games to fill a small mancave.  There is a lease payment due come February 1st and the only source of income is basically charging venue fees for our console tourneys.  Talk about a dilemma....  So besides the fact the place is a mess, no arcade games, and money needs to be generated immediately, I guess things are okay right?  This might be the point in my life where I am genuinely at a loss.  Do I try my best to keep this place open?  Do I say F it and just close shop and let the community deal with finding their own gathering spot?  Normally I am very assertive and make quick decisions but this was something that I could not do on my own and I wouldn't be the only one affected by this choice so I had to be 100% sure I thought it out very carefully.  In all honesty the people I thought most about were my employees and then the community.  Here comes the part where I talk about the mushy stuff and how it motivated me to keep on going.

So knowing that I needed more than just physical help, I reached out to the community and arcade family for financial support.  I reluctantly started a wepay raffle/donation drive and wound up giving away a ton of prizes mainly from MadCatz.  These prizes included sticks, headsets, and control pads that we both received as gifts from MadCatz and from players who generously returned their prizes from our tourneys.  It took me some time even get this drive started because I was never in a position in life that I was not in control of.  I felt a slight sense of scumbaggery in asking people for money to put into a business where we would expect people to spend money at.  I guess the fact that we had over $3500 in prizes up for raffle helped me find some form of justification for my actions.  Day 1 of the drive starts and I remember putting it up on while making a ton of phone calls and just trying to figure out what my next step would be.  Within the first hour I received approximately $300 in donations and then all of a sudden a $2000 donation came in... WTF!!!!!!  Let me start by saying this, and I know I have personally thanked this gentleman many times over, but had you not done this I honestly don't know if I would've had the motivation to keep working so hard.  The donation drive eventually received somewhere in the neighborhood of $11,500.  To this day I refused to close the doors here because the community responded when I was asking for help, so now there was no way I could turn my back on them.  With a few bucks now available, rebuilding was starting to take place and we were working relentlessly to bring Super Arcade back to functional order.  We actually ran a few of our WNF and TRB tourneys with the arcade in this poor condition and let me say this.  I was opening the doors at roughly 7pm on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday just to make some revenue from our tourneys.  Before people would show up the place was basically bare wall with consoles sitting in the middle of a grimey room.  The mood was horrible and just a blanket of melancholy covered the venue.  Still being very positive that we could turn it around I received a ton of support from all the players and the turnouts were decent.

As we proceeded to bring in machines and clean the place up there were the obvious people who really cared and the people who were just posers and didn't do much to help.  I want to tell this story directly to the person it is about because he might not even be aware of what went on during this time.  Like I said, many of us were working extremely long hours including people that weren't even employees.  But there was one person who never came around yet constantly asked me when the arcade was going to open up again.  In my mind I'm thinking, it would open up a lot faster if everyone helped right?  So aside from these constant annoying messages of when will I open, which I am getting from customers and expected, I just found it very frustrating to have someone I thought was on my team turn out to be such a selfish person.  It was bad to the point where I needed someone to be at the arcade to receive a drop off of equipment and left this up to him.  In turn I was shocked when this person told me he was there from 8pm till maybe 1am and said he expected to get paid for five hours of work......  so aside from not helping out you want to get paid for being at the place you work while everyone is busting their ass for free?  Not a good look and this person definitely moved himself out of the inner circle.  

But besides this issue I felt a lot of warmth towards the people who actually did help and I did what I could in terms of buying them food and keeping everyone occupied without asking for too much.  I also received a phone call from a friend of ours that is heavily involved in the Bemani and music genre of arcade games, and he had some great news for me.  There was a guy up in northern California who had a a bunch of music games he was willing to loan the arcade and revenue share if possible.  This is exactly what we needed as money was tight and filling up the arcade with games was a top priority.  It was Super Bowl weekend and we busted a cannonball run up to Sacramento starting at 7am.  Five hours after starting out on our journey we arrive near our destination and rented a UHaul to transport everything.  It took a few hours to load all this stuff between four people and we were dead tired.  With a couple stops for gas and food we arrived back to the arcade around 11pm that same night we began unloading and I think we left the arcade around 3am.  Thankfully these games brought in a new crowd to the arcade which obviously provided us with a new source of income so the effort wasn't wasted.  Along with these cabs we just brought down there was a few more people who helped immensely towards the cause.  One guy basically sold me a bunch of cabs with a payment plan which allowed the arcade breath and produce more income while not having to be completely strapped for cash.  We also purchased a few cabs from generous patrons who sold them below their estimated value as well as the old owner of Arcade Infinity coming through and giving me a good discount on multiple cabs and boards.  So all in all we were able to swing some deals, get a ton of help, and bring the place back to life in a very short amount of time in thanks to not only the people working here but those who donated and those willing to sell their cabinets at an affordable price to us.

Next post will hopefully include some current issues and my current mindset in regards to keeping a failing business open.  Thanks again for reading and stay tuned!

*To all the people I mentioned in my post, if you have a problem or feel you have been represented unjustly please contact me and we can resolve any issues you might have either publicly or in private.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Past issues, sacrifices made, and how I became sole owner.

I was really on the fence about talking about the problems that Super Arcade has encountered and is currently going through, but since the can of worms is already open there is no need to sugarcoat anything or try to hide the fact that this place is not in the greatest shape physically or financially.  This post might portray somewhat of a desolate tone but I can assure you all I am still hopeful and still operating as best I can given the circumstances.

Past issues, oh man, where do I start?  Let's just say from top to bottom there are so many things and so much work required just to keep this place operational.  I'll kick things off with the restroom since it seems to be a topic some people like to bring up.  For starters, if you have used our restroom in the past two years and think it's gross, foul, atrocious, or just straight up reeks of death, then I have news for you.  Before the current state of loveliness you guys seem so quick to jump on and complain about, there was a room here that I will refer to as the "toilet of the damned."  I am assuming people did not like the previous owner or his workers because this place looked like something out of a roadside horror flick.  People pissed in the sink, in the mop bucket, on the floor, and even on the walls.  The drywall was corroded to the point where insulation was exposed on at least 30% of the surface area.  The walls that didn't crumble had graffiti and other forms of tagging that resembled a porta potta located in the middle of a gang war in south central la.  The door, if you can even call it that, had a typical slide lock on it that was easily kicked if needed, so there was basically zero privacy available.  Not that you would likely camp out to take a dump here but the option is at least available now and there is a functioning door that closes and locks.  I even put in red, yellow, and off white tiles to resemble McDonald's as a troll when we attempted to salvage the place but I don't think anyone noticed.  Let me move on to the electrical problems that lurk and unfortunately were just resolved about a month ago.  As you can tell, most of the outlets are being used close to maximum capacity and beyond in some cases.  The wiring in the building is very old and the previous owners took horrible care of everything.  Can anyone say fire hazard?  This was a huge safety issue and thankfully with some hard work and tedious hours of thorough testing, this issue is now finally resolved.  With all that being said, these are just some of the structural and cosmetic issues, wait till we get to the nitty-gritty of what went down and why I am fighting this good fight alone.

Before you read on I really want to express very seriously that I am not listing any of the following problems for any other reason than to inform the people how hard it is and what sacrifices I have made just to stay open in the recent months.  I am not looking for sympathy or apologies, I am a grown man and have made my own decisions and will live with them.

As stated in a prior post, I was working literally 100 hours a week just to make sure everything was going well and keeping everything in line during operating hours.  I am a firm believer that you get what you put into something and I truly believed that if I gave this my all I would reach my goals and have a prosperous place for everyone to enjoy.  After about 18 months the owner at the time was ready to call it quits on the place as it was not generating any positive income and basically just becoming a burden for him.  I was working on details to purchase the business entirely and working on negotiations to have a final price so we could move on.  During this time I was not able to put my best foot forward business wise due to the fact my wife just gave birth to my beautiful baby daughter.  Even after becoming a father, the arcade was still a top priority of mine and I wasn't about to let so many hours of hard work just go down the drain.  I was still working about 60 hours a week and made sure I was there both for my kid and the FGC.  So eventually I had agreed to take over full financial responsibility of the business near the end of 2012 but hadn't finalized all the details as to transfer of ownership of the arcade machines, the current leasing agreement, and changing names on the business license and utilities.  So as the days past I am basically running the place with all responsibility under my name and having the burden of being the sole owner.  I guess the title of "owner" is pretty cool, and I'm sure for those not completely informed of all technicalities of being an owner, this might seem like something really awesome.  Well guess what?  Things are always fun when they first start out but when you are faced with paying your employees, paying to restock your shop, and just paying the bills and lease, this is when things are definitely not fun.  I made it through 2012 still able to take home a small paycheck for myself and keep things afloat but then a nightmare occured...........

Here is the part where things get really dirty and where I must be very careful with everything I say because this is when the person I was attempting to purchase the arcade from came back to bite me in the ass.  I want to lay the groundwork for this story before anything just to eliminate speculations of my stupidity and logic I used during the matter.  I had known this person since roughly 1991 and was attending and winning tournaments at his more well known establishment.  This is a person I honestly considered a very good friend and even reminded of my late father.  I had no reason to believe that a handshake or verbal agreement wasn't enough to seal the deal and make everything proper.  Low and behold oh how I was wrong.  I want to go into very specific details about all this but I really can't.  If you care to hear the full story I am all up for talking to you in person and giving you all the juicy details but on the public platform I must limit things.  Basically I handed over money for down payment and things went sour after that.  Come early January 2013 I get a phone call from and employee stating my business partner has arrived and closed up the shop around noon.  I was also informed through the phone that this person specifically asked the worker not to call me and he would contact me himself.  Really?  You are at the arcade, kicked everyone out, and now pulling out machines and I shouldn't be notified?  Talk about shadiness 101.  Regardless, my kid is only a few months old at the time and my wife was at work so there was absolutely no way I could get down there in a timely manner so I eventually showed up about three hours into the mess.  When I get there I see the place more than half empty and I am having trouble controlling my temper and emotions.  I eventually take it out on the fridge and left a hulk fist in the side of it and at this point in no mood to be civil.  Oh how I wanted to just rampage this bitch and send him into the ground.  I felt completely betrayed and taken for a fool.  Just imagine showing up to a place you had spent basically 75% of your life improving for over two years, and then seeing it just being torn apart without any notification?  This idiot even had to nerve to try and talk to me like we were still buddies and jokingly said if I was mad to go ahead and pop him one in the chin if it made me feel better.  This was the second time in 4 years I was confronted with internal rage and self control and fortunately I came out the bigger man and didn't knock this dickhead out.  I will talk about the other time in a later blog :)

So here I am left with an arcade with only a pair of Astro City Cabs, a Street Fighter Pinball machine, and a few random showcase cabinets.  I feel like my heart was ripped out and I wasn't sure what the immediate future was going to bring.  I want to tell guys all the details, I really do, and I don't mean to be a tease so I will say what I can.  Basically the previous owner wanted out, knew I would do everything I could not to close, and just went about things his own way.  There might have been some tough love in a sense, and he actually tried very hard to persuade me into giving up but that is not me.  That's not how I roll and I have never not tried to put my full efforts into making something to succeed.  My first concerns were not about the money I had lost, and not about what I was going to do if the arcade was done.  My first concern was where the hell am I going to run the tourneys on Wednesday and Thursday.  I even tried to convince the person who just screwed me over to let me use the building in its current state to keep the tourneys rolling and put aside my anger to try and at least salvage what I could for the community.  At this point I'm sure some of our patrons can recall what this place looked like during this dark time.  The ceilings were crumbling, figuratively and literally.  There are a couple bright sides to the story and knowing things did take a turn for the better I will end this entry and hope you all continue to read.

Next post will include how super was saved, selfless acts, and the current status of things.  See you all soon!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One of the main reasons this arcade still stands!

This post is going to be a little short due to time constraints but I wanted to let you guys know the main factor that drives me to keeping Super Arcade open.  It has definitely been a rough road and times I have questioned myself and the decisions I have made in order to continuously keep the doors open here.  I will discuss later all the negatives and the current issues with the arcade and will try and keep this post on a more positive note.

Being a part of the fighting game community before it even held the label of FGC is something I am actually very proud of.  Being able to give back to a scene that has brought me so many memories, awesome and life changing experiences, and just allowed me to mature as a person in general is enough reason to make this journey that much more special.  I guess the only real drawback to being involved in something for so long is with time invested comes age.....  There's always ongoing jokes about who's older and who's 40 and what not so I'm going to set the record straight once and for all.  Out of Valle, Choi, and myself, Choi is 100% the oldest, I'm about 6 months younger than him, and Valle is about a year younger than me.  We are all currently in our 30's but that isn't going to last much longer sadly :)  Now back to the subject.  So I feel that my time in the FGC has had many rewards and I couldn't ask for more.  I tasted victory, I won a free trip to japan and competed against the best of the best, and I met more genuine people through competitive gaming than anyone can imagine.  I believe that all this was achieved through hard work and a trait known as loyalty.  I believe loyalty is a characteristic that many people don't value enough and unfortunately the lack of it has created a selfish environment that is becoming detrimental to our beloved scene.  I feel that I am indebted to repay this scene with my knowledge and years of experience and if I can change or improve just one person's life, than I am doing my part.  Here is the story I wanted to share with you all and mind you this was posted back in May on when I received news that my friend passed away.

C&P from SRK forums :

"Back in 1993 there was a tournament in Chicago that eventually became known as the Midwest Championship Series located in Northbrooke, Illinois. I was 15 years old at the time and just become the top SF player. The comic book shop "World's Finest Comics" received a phone call from the tournament organizer requesting possibly that Tomo come out and compete. (Mind you some details may off a bit as I am now very old and tend to remember things as I want or wished them to be) So anyways, Tomo was done playing at that time and well, this was my time to prove my worth and be the first ever player to hand out the "out of town beatdown!" Problem now was, where was I to get funding to attend this tournament and how was I going to convince my parents I was going to fly some 2,000 miles to go play a game they hated me playing? So let’s skip the part about me bs'ing my parents :) and get to the part of this story that I will never forget and what I feel allowed a pivotal moment in SF history to take place. So word gets around at the comic store during a tourney that I was interested in attending but needed help. Guess who offers the luckiest kid in the world a plane ticket and what I believe is the first ever sponsorship in the FGC? Good ol Mr Vaha Pirjanian. When he offered me the plane ticket my first thought was explaining to him how I was gonna return $400 to him and what kind of bonus I would give him if I win and etc etc etc. I was so excited and mind you $400 back in 1993 was a ton of money! So as the story goes I get to Chicago and thankfully win the tournament (which there is footage to amazingly and also some of the first video taken of competitive SF) and bring home about $1000 in prizes and $300 cash. At this point I’m flying on cloud 9, I win what’s the biggest SF tourney to date, and now all that’s left to do is repay my sponsor and take the rest of my winnings and enjoy! Now here’s where things get even crazier. I bring Vahe $400 in cash and he refuses to even accept my money. WTF!!!!! He says something to the extent of "I knew you were going to win and just wanted to do something nice for you." I had no idea what to say or do at this point and was completely as a loss for words. This man had big time SoCal pride and I was just given the gift of opportunity and made the most of it. There is a lot more to this story but I want to stay on point in this post and let Vahe's character shine like it deserves.

Thank you again Vahe for everything you have done for me and all the great times and memories you have provided in my life. I never got a chance to say goodbye obviously and it saddens me dearly, but if there is any chance you are shining down on us and can read this, I want you to know that I learned to be a man from you and I treat those close to me very well just as you always did. You were a great friend and I will never forget you."

So there's my story and the main reason why Super Arcade is still standing.  This arcade has generated what I would like to call a family in a sense and brought together many people that normally wouldn't even associate with one another in a different environment.  There are so many positives to the arcade life that you can't understand unless you are a part of it.  The FGC is one of the rare places where you are not judged by your race, age, or the size of your wallet.  The game of Street Fighter has brought together so many people from so many walks of life that it will never be surpassed.  Does our community have issues?  of course...  but which community is flawless?  As the growth of the FGC was so rapid along came many factors causing issues such as sexism that were blown way out of proportion.  I will state that I do not condone the actions of people involved but it I do believe the community leaders are handling these issues progressively and doing a good job to resolve it.  There will always be problems of some sort that come about but the real problem is the vultures who lurk and wait for the smallest of slip ups then publish their 2 cents in which they really have no clue what they are talking about.  Since when did the FGC spawn the growth of these so called "TMZ-like" websites and employ clowns to write garbage that isn't more than yesterday's news?  You might ask why I am bringing all this up and I will get to that immediately.  As a member of this beloved community please realize that all it takes is for 1 person to make a mistake and gain the attention of the media, as to all the while, we have many many people working their asses off and their efforts are all overshadowed by ignorance.  You are all part of a scene that is under a microscope as we try to grow and prosper so please take the responsibility to act as a rational human and not some inbred farm animal.  Thank You.

I am sorry for the continuous rants but as i stated in my intro, I wish for this blog to build a better FGC and create an understanding for those of you who might overlook your importance as an individual in the matter.  In my next post I will discuss many of the problems and current issues here at the arcade along with how I became the sole owner.  Thanks as always for reading and see you all again soon!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The rebirth of Super Arcade and how WNF became Arcade Edition

Time to turn back the clock a couple years and reminisce a bit on when the arcade scene was seemingly back on track to flourish.  The whole idea of Super Arcade making a return to greatness and the idea of my return to the FGC as a servant unfolded during a trip to Las Vegas.  This particular weekend started on July 29th, ended on July 31st, and may also be referred to the world as Evolution 2011.  Many fond memories took place at this tourney including none other than long time veteran Viscant winning the Marvel vs Capcom 3 tournament.  Shout outs to my fellow gamer Jay Snyder, aka the love interest of "Big Daddy" back in the days of Southern Hills Golfland, but I'll leave that topic alone..... for now.............. and get back to the subject at hand.

So an old friend of mine approached me and said he was in the works of purchasing Super Arcade along with Japan Arcade. He was wondering if I could suggest someone to help him run the place since he knew I had deep ties to the community and many of its players in the local area.  Throughout the weekend I was just doing my usual, enjoying the tourney, hanging out with friends, and just soaking in all the fun and entertainment of Vegas, but all the while I had the thought of Super Arcade in the back of my head and the curiosity of what could be kept lingering.  I returned home and not long after I couldn't help but call this friend and let him know I would watch the shop and try to make things happen.  To make things a little more clear, this arcade was fully operational and running under previous ownership for somewhere in the neighborhood of ten years.  This was also the very same place that I first met the original US champion of Street Fighter, Mr. Tomo Ohira back in 1992.  This location had a ton of sentimental value to me along with a huge untapped potential, so I put forth my best efforts and jumped right in to try and make a difference.

My first goal when taking on this mission was to ask myself, what can I do here to bring people in, and how can we make this place a better playground for the community?  There was a good variety of games here including some expensive driving games like Initial D, Maximum Tune, and Battle Gear.  At the peak of it all there was a total of ten sit down cabinets for drivers which cost a lot of money but also generated good revenue so the cost was warranted for the time.  The arcade also had some shooting games like House of the Dead, Point Blank, and two versions of Time Crisis.  Again, some of these games weren't cheap but any game that costs more than one credit to play and gets play is always good to have.  So here's comes my obvious confession of being a rookie in the arcade scene.  I could obviously pack the house with the use of social media such as Twitter and forum traffic from Shoryuken.  I could fix games and keep things functional even during late hours which is a huge plus for people playing at 1am and a button or joystick goes out.  I could even keep customers entertained by playing various versions of Street Fighter with them until competition came along.  But one mistake I did make, I made this arcade into a "fighting game" arcade first and strayed away from the typical blueprint of a normal arcade.  This thought still bothers me to this day because instead of keeping machines that generated income, I put fighters as a top priority and made sure we had just about every version of Street Fighter installed in a cabinet taking up precious floor space.  I did what I thought was best at the time and pushed for the arcade to go in a direction which showed instant results, but or the long haul it wasn't such a great idea.  I'll rehash on this later.

So Super Arcade is up and running full speed ahead!  Business is great, the place is packed just about 7 days a week, and we are staying open way past normal business hours to accommodate the customers.  What a great feeling it was to see an arcade flourishing after the torment of seeing Southern Hills Golfland close back in 2002, and Arcade Infinity closing February of 2011.  This brought huge joy to me knowing I was a part of reviving not only my own great childhood memories, but also being able to share a culture that many people weren't fortunate enough to experience till now.  I was literally working between eighty to a hundred hours a week and busting my ass to accomplish this feat.  There wasn't a single night in the first month I started that I closed the doors at our scheduled time.  I honestly had to ask people to leave every night so I could go home and sleep and then return the next morning at 10am.  Aside from my body and sleep schedule getting destroyed, there was nothing not great about what was going on.  But this wasn't it, we were about to do something that changes the history of the SoCal FGC and make this arcade that much bigger and better!  We are going to bring in more people and stay open longer one night of the week called Wednesday.  Am I crazy?  Is working the equivalent hours of two full time jobs not enough as it is?  Is it even possible to grow this arcade into something no one has seen before?  Hell yeah it is, and thus I will tell you the story of how Wednesday Night Fights "Arcade Edition" came about.

A brief history for those of you unfamiliar with the grass roots of WNF.  As you can tell by now, I like to go into much detail and share with you as much knowledge as I can each subject I write.  At times I will drag on like a senile old fart telling the same story over and over but hey, this is my blog and you are reading it so go bite me.  WNF was a very small gathering organized by none other that Alex V.  This gathering was held in the garage of a guy who grew up near Southern Hills Golfland and generous enough to open his doors to allow people to come play and hang out.  I believe they started off with like six people and it slowly evolved into much more in a very short time.  This gathering quickly outgrew the garage and needed to seek out much larger locations to host the event.  It bounced around from different locations such as the Proud Bird, Hollywood Park Casino, and various hotel ballrooms.  The days of live streaming were evolving before our very eyes and the power of the internet was flooding in new people to scene very quickly.  I went to visit one of these events, prior to being at Super Arcade, just to show support to Alex as he and I had been rivals and friends for over ten years at this point.  Things were looking good for him and the community.  So when I finally had a few minutes to breath, during the time I wasn't slaving away at the arcade, I decided to give Alex a call.  I can honestly say that this call lasted no longer than five minutes and with one face to face meeting and a handshake, we changed the tourney scene forever.  Wednesday Night Fights was now going to be held at Super Arcade and the community was going to get even stronger!

Now you might ask, what is required to run such an event, what precautions should be taken, and how can we plan things out to make sure everything runs smoothly.  Well, the answer is nothing.  Experience is the only factor that plays a role here and we were forced to learn very quickly how to handle things.  The first WNF that took place at Super Arcade was a sight to see.  There was literally at least 300 people there and absolutely no room to even walk inside the arcade.  We coined this situation as "nuts to butts."  Yes, we are immature, yes, it's nuts to butts cause the FGC is mainly consisted of juvenile males, yes, it's a rude and obnoxious term, and yes, I am a child at heart with a foul mouth and very non politically correct.  Those who know me irl know what I'm about and those who read on will soon realize that regardless of how sexist or rude my comments might be, I have no ill will or intentions in using them.  So anyways, with help from another long time FGC'er, Daniel Maniago, aka Clockwork, we receive coverage of this event from the no longer existing G4 television network.  They have their whole crew come in and film a segment along with some interviews.  Free press, more customers, and more exposure to those not familiar with the FGC was great, and at the time I'm not sure if I thanked you or not clock, and if I didnt I apologize, but better late then never :)  Although the event was a huge success, let me start telling you guys some of the basic problems we encountered.  Having adequate power to run fifteen or so console set-ups is not a simple task.  Especially when the electrical wiring in the place wasn't exactly great to begin with.  This building is also less than 3000 square feet, so space is an issue and keeping crowd control was a big concern, which is why I keep an axe behind the counter.  Yes, I said axe but let me explain.  My name is not Paul Bunyan nor am I a professional tree chopper but having an axe is much better your typical ghetto security system known as a baseball bat and much less risky than having a gun.  Your typical trouble maker is usually some idiot with half a brain and a very low level of common sense, so you combat him with visuals since reasoning or logic won't compute in a quick enough manner to dissolve a situation.  Everyone has seen a bat, and when you see a bat you just think, oh, good ol' american baseball, or this bat wont hurt, etc. etc. etc.  When you see an AXE you will hopefully have some form of natural instinctive fear and say to yourself, oh shit, this dude ain't messing around, he has a friggin axe, and you think along the lines of Jason or Michael Myers.  All it takes is for someone to change their thoughts for a split second and you can then reason with them which will hopefully end the problem.  If not I guess we just gotta cut off a limb or two.......  your loss not mine.

So this concludes part 1 and hopefully you have gained some insight to how Super Arcade was initially reborn and how WNF became a part of this arcade.  I hope this hasnt bored you too much cause all I see is a wall of text transferred from my brain to the keyboard.  Up next I will touch on the subjects of everyday arcade life, troubles that came about, and being the sole owner of the arcade.  Until then, thanks for reading and see you all again soon!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Explanatory Introduction

I would first off like to thank anyone spending the time to read this as it genuinely is the first time I have attempted to write something with the intent of sharing my thoughts and bring you into the life of an arcade owner.  I would like to let you know that I consider myself a pretty private person when it comes to dealing with problems and sharing emotions of any sort.  With that said I do feel it is important to release this statement of fact and feeling so people of the Fighting Game Community can start to understand the importance of keeping this niche group of people strong and tight nit for many more years to come.  Once again, please let me express to you that many of you may or may not agree with many of things I am going to express in terms of opinion but also try to put yourself in an open mindset where you can understand why I view things the way I do and how I go about handling the situations before you make your judgement.  Another reason I am writing this extended prologue is in attempt to keep the flaming to a minimal because as we all know by now, once you put something on the internet you are instantly putting yourself out there to be criticized and usually the results are quite harsh.

I find many of things I am about to share are sensitive subjects due to the timeline and current status of not only the arcade but the relationship of the parties involved.  I must also be very careful in what I tell you all since I am also under a microscope of not only the people of the FGC but also that of people trying to file lawsuits against me and individuals with harmful intentions towards myself and the existence of the arcade itself.  Some names will be withheld due to a concern of privacy but to those who are close to the scene these names are very obvious so please respect my decision in not directly naming them.  If I am in any way, shape, or form offending any of the people involved in my posts please come talk to me in person if you have any issues and I will gladly talk to you about them in person to resolve any possible miscommunication or misrepresentaion on your behalf.  I have one goal to achieve by telling you all my story, and my goal is to make this community stronger and hopefully open the eyes of those who have taken this community for granted.  The importance of this is great enough for me to step outside of my normal life and actually expose the ins and outs of Super Arcade.  Hopefully some of you will gain a higher respect for those who make things happen, or maybe gain knowledge as to how much work is actually put into events and gatherings that you have a good time attending, and worst case, possibly gain a better understanding of yourself as a gamer and realize that each individual has their own place in this unique environment we have all grown to love.

next post I will be talking about how Super Arcade popularity came about, Wednesday Night Fights AE edition, and the honeymoon period of a newly established location.