I think there seems to be a misconception out there in the general public that people who play and enjoy video games are dullards socially as well as mentally – the proverbial “digital vegetable” if you will. Well you can tell those people where to put their opinion when you bring up this master’s thesis by Jeremy Ward Aber aptly entitled “Place Attachment And Sense of Community Among U.S. Video Arcade Collectors”. Written by a gamer and arcade collector this is a 130-page document that specifically dissects what it is about arcade gaming that brings people together and how they stay enthusiastic about the hobby of collecting these games through the years. It also covers many other things such as media about arcades from the early 80’s, arcade history, interviews with current collectors and more. In a day where most social activity is done through online gaming (which has caused a few problems when some people forget to do things such as eat) it is great to read about one aspect that you only really get out of going to an arcade – you actually meet other people that enjoy to play the same games you do. Anyways here is a quote from the thesis:
“During the Golden Era of 1978-1985, the video arcade was an icon of the American cultural landscape. For many youth, the arcade was not only a source of entertainment, but it also helped them develop important social skills. In the decades since that time, the arcade has virtually disappeared from the landscape, yet its importance to members of the community remains strong. This thesis looks at the present day arcade collecting community from a cultural geographic perspective, using place attachment, sense of community, and the concept of third place. The purpose is to enhance our understanding of people’s attachment to the video arcade of the Golden Era.
The primary methods of data collection include interviews with collectors, interaction with the online community, and participant observation at arcade events. After gathering data and performing thematic content analysis, it was found that the common threads that bond collectors today are the significant emotional experiences they had as youth. The arcade has created a sense of community that transcends age and helps foster connections to youth, family, and friends. Memories of place also help contribute to the present day collecting community. Collectors are physically scattered across the U.S., yet have connections that are identifiable at multiple scales. Regionally, they come together through auctions where games are sold. On the national level, large expositions like California Extreme are the focus. Because of the scattered distribution, these physical events are strongly interdependent with the online community. The Internet provides an effective method of communication that is a crucial factor in tying together collectors in disparate physical locations as well as creating a present day sense of community.”