When I was a kid, the best gaming experience around was a pinball machine, two flippers, no ramps and analog wheels that would tote up the score.
As I began to save my quarters for gas money, the new generation of games came along. There was Pong, Pac-Man, Centipede and Defender, but the first of the electronic arcade games was Asteroids.
The graphics on the case were more colorful than the black-and-white outlines on the television monitor.
Pinball machine makers began to feel the pressure and went more colorful and digital. When the price went above a quarter per play, they priced me out of the market.
If you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, stop at the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum. They have more pinball machines then I knew existed, and the best part is play is priced at the original release price.
Old quarter machines only cost a quarter to play.
The reason video games were in the arcade was most were so expensive no one could afford to have one at home.
On Nov. 15, 1980, Telegram-Tribune reporter Ted Jackovics wrote about the new game Asteroids. (Last sentence was corrected to read a.m. There was no clipping in the file confirming a world record was granted for this attempt.)
Shooting for a record
Arroyo youth blasts at Asteroids
Jonathan Bohling of Arroyo Grande slipped a quarter into a $2,300 electronic video machine precisely at 5 p.m. Friday and began to blast his way toward a world record.
Bohling began his quest for the number one rated Asteroids sharpshooter before 76,999 fewer fans than the 77,000 expected to attend the Alabama-Notre Dame football game today.
But before he had vaporized 70 asteroids — less than 30 minutes work for the 16-year-old blond — word spread on Pomeroy Street and admirers wandered into the Playland Arcade in Pismo Beach to check his progress.
“I’m just a video addict who can’t figure out how to quit playing so I decided to go all the way,” Bohling said cheerfully as he nimbly tapped four buttons on a console while keeping an eye on from two to more than 20 electronic blips dashing in random patterns on a television-sized electronic screen.
Bohling’s goal was to play for 24 consecutive hours, beat a 20-hour record filed with a toy company by a Southern California man and make his claim to the Guiness Book of World Records.
“Lasting three minutes is considered pretty good around here,” said 12-year-old Scotty Hollingsworth of Grover City as he watched Bohling concentrate on the screen.
The object of Asteroids is to maneuver a delta shaped space ship and fire its rockets to break seven moving, button-sized electronic asteroids into smaller and smaller blips that eventually disappear from the screen.
Clear the screen of the electronic chunks of space waste and an occasional rocket firing enemy spaceship that darts across the screen and you win a round and tally a spare spaceship in reserve.
React a millisecond too slowly and your ship is knocked off the screen and the game ends. Bohling said he hoped to build a reserve of spaceships so he could occasionally sprint to the bathroom.
Playland Aracde owner Mark Snay planned to accommodate Bohling by locking him and a witness in the arcade all night.
World record attempt or not, Pismo Beach has a 2 a.m. curfew.