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!

9 comments:

  1. Great read, keep up the fantastic writing! I know writing is extremely time-consuming, but it's a wonderful insider's view that absolutely needs to be shared. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very good write up so far! Just a few missteps on the grammar and spelling but I can't fault you for it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A...An axe? Really? Remind me not to mess with you... XD

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very interesting! Thank you for being so honest. I'm looking forward to your next post.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great read straight from the source. Ty for everything, Wats.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "oh shit, this dude ain't messing around, he has a friggin axe." ROFL

    ReplyDelete
  7. Watts, from a financial perspective I really don't know how you keep that place open, but I praise you in every way possible for hosting a location for the FGC community to grow and bond with each other.

    Can't wait to read more.

    ReplyDelete