Houston Arcade Expo and other items of note

In a similar spirit to a misquotation commonly attributed to Mark Twain, any reports of my demise and/or retirement from competitive video gaming and pinball have been greatly exaggerated.

On this Friday and Saturday, we will have yet another Houston Arcade Expo. I plan to be in attendance toward the late afternoon/evening hours of Saturday, November 16. I will not be playing in the tournament, but I will be playing some of the many pinball games, and perhaps a few video games, out on the show floor. I’m still not sure what I’ll be wearing that day but I will be coming from a non-arcade-related event earlier that day that may require me to be dressed a bit more conservatively than usual. I may have time to change before I head over, I may not; if I am able to change, I plan to wear my Astros 2019 AL Champions T-shirt. (As an aside, I am still proud of what our Astros did this year; two pennants in three years is not something a lot of teams are able to pull off, much less a World Series victory after one of them.)

I have taken a rather long break, by my standards, from even touching a pinball machine of any sort. The last one I got to play was the KISS in Las Vegas at the Rio, very briefly on the way back from the comedy show. I had meant to get in a few rounds by now, somewhere, but at this point I may as well wait for Saturday.

I’m still not sure exactly when or where I will return to competitive pinball. On one hand I want that to be relatively soon and for as long as I am physically able to do the various things required to play (i.e. stand, operate the controls, see the playfield, ball, and score display, and coin/bill up the machine when required). This is not to imply that I am immediately at risk of not being able to do so, merely that there is a desire that nobody else makes the decision for me that I should no longer play competitively.

On the other, I don’t want to rush back into things and I want to be sure that my involvement in competitive pinball is a worthwhile use of my time and not an undue risk factor towards my reputation (specifically, being associated with people of questionable character and/or those who knowingly disregard the law). It is unfortunate that I have to say this, but it is the truth. I’m not going to pretend that I’m perfect, but it was a real eye opener to learn what some people are really made of over the last few years.

So yes, I am starting to miss parts of the competitive scene, but at the same time there are things I don’t miss at all that I’d rather leave behind. This Saturday, I’m going to pretend it’s 2014 again (or as close to that as I can) prior to a competitive pinball scene being established in Houston. I’m going to play as if the tournament isn’t there, and just play to have fun. Remember, the object of the game is to get the highest score, but the object of playing the game is to have fun. Don’t forget this; the results of doing so can be disastrous. Y’all have fun at Expo this weekend, okay?

Houston Arcade Expo
Houston Mariott Westchase
2900 Briarpark Drive
Houston, TX

Very brief status update, 2019 September

I realize I have not posted in a while. Due to a variety of factors I have decided to take a break from competitive pinball, but I hope to resume before the end of the year. I have remained active doing some research related to the video game high score record attempts (the “record quest” in the original site’s domain name).

I would prefer not to reveal too much, as the games I have in mind have few or no record attempts per the Twin Galaxies site and I don’t want anyone “beating me to the punch”. Klax is still on the list along with a few other “household name” arcade game titles from the early to mid-1980s, however, for a lot of games I am scaling back going from the #1 record to putting up what I call an “I’m no slouch” score. Something along the lines of 100K+ on Centipede, 200K+ on Galaga, 60K+ on Dig Dug, etc; enough to prove I’m one of the better players at the game, even if not the world’s best.

On a lot of these games, it’s a question of endurance and/or how long can the player keep doing the same pattern over and over. Pac-Man is one such example, perhaps the most obvious one in fact. Robotron: 2084 is arguably another such example. Feats such as completing the entire 255 mazes of Pac-Man or running up 100M+ on Robotron: 2084 are still impressive, but to me they just aren’t satisfying to accomplish. As nice as the fame may be from being the guy to finally break, say, 6M on Centipede after almost 40 years, I would find it boring to get there and knowing that a couple of screw-ups halfway through would end it, the pressure to perform would be enormous and would really take most of the fun out of it.

I close with a long overdue, belated post of the one game of pinball I played while in Las Vegas. This was at the KISS by Monster Mini Golf attraction inside The Rio. It was, of course, the Stern KISS table from a few years ago. It was admittedly in rather sad shape: missing a flipper rubber and the lock shot was somehow not accepting balls. I had originally gotten $2 in change intending to play 3 games but after taking a quick look at the machine settled on just one for $1. Again, it’s a score that would probably not even hold up on league night if I still played but it did feel good to step up to a pinball machine again and play.

Score on KISS, KISS by Monster Mini Golf, Rio, Las Vegas, NV.

Statement regarding Anime Matsuri 2019

While I did not announce it widely, in part due to it being kind of a last-minute thing, I did help staff the Extra Life booth at Anime Matsuri 2019 over the weekend.

Those familiar with me know I have a track record of helping out with charitable events, including a volunteer history going back a full decade now. I have been a part of the Extra Life Guild since, well, before the guilds were even formalized and Houston had an Extra Life committee (the only city that had one that I know of, as the effort started here).

It is also no big secret that John Leigh, the event manager of Anime Matsuri at least as of 2015, was accused of sexual harassment by several women that year. This has had the obvious effect on the festival’s reputation in the years since. I cannot compare to previous years, but I did notice the attendance, size, and hours don’t correspond to my idea of a healthy event, even though according to the website “Anime Matsuri is also the fastest growing convention in North America reaching over 36,000 unique attendees in 11 years” (emphasis theirs).

In this case, obviously, my desire to help the Extra Life Guild won out. However, my attendance should not be interpreted as an approval or endorsement of any Anime Matsuri staff actions in the past or present. I staunchly condemn sexual harassment and I feel it is unfortunate that the actions of an event manager have cast such a shadow over what could continue to be a great anime festival.

Statement regarding the remainder of Space City Pinball League Season 10

For a variety of reasons I am unable to share in a public blog post at this time, I will not be participating in weeks 3 and 4 of the current Space City Pinball League season at Eighteen Twenty Lounge. I regret disappointing the fans and followers I have out there and I hope to fill in the details at a later date.

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