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December 30, 2014, 12:51:40 PM - ORIGINAL POST -

Link to the article:

The third place is a generic designation for a great variety of public places that host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of work and home.

1. It's neutral ground, meaning it doesn't belong to any of the people who congregate there.
2. It's a "leveler," meaning it's inclusive and doesn't differentiate based on social status.
3. It exists for conversation.
4. It's accessible and accommodating.
5. It has a group of "regulars" that meet there.
6. It keeps a relatively low profile.
7. It has a playful mood.
8. It serves as a home away from home.

Think about this criterion in particular: "it exists for conversation." This is where we've broken down, I think. Common places don't exist for conversation anymore, they largely exist for working.

The various forums over the decades that have housed our DDR conversations has sort of provided the "conversation" criteria for the arcade going experience. I've had a lot of conversations at arcades, but it's also hard to talk and play a game at the same time.

So where is the new third place? As American slips into never-ending suburbia, do we have such a thing anymore?

Dear it Facebook? Oldenburg wrote his book nearly thirty years ago, and it's doubtful he would have even known about early Internet interaction models like IRC, Usenet, and BBS, let alone imagined today's social networking platforms.

Nonetheless, some of the criteria are met: an apparently neutral, inclusive, accommodating, leveling environment full of regulars ("friends") that exists for conversation. Hell, could the next great sitcom be nothing but a news feed?

Please, no.

I fear the third place will continue to die off, as a new generation needs them even less than this one. Kids these days sit around tables with their heads down into their phones, absorbed in a third place that exists everywhere, yet nowhere at all.

Games at home. MMOs. Cell phones and tablets.  Who needs conversation when you have screens full of entertainment, right?

For those who are my local friends, you know I got into a board game kick several years ago. Part of that was that it's so much more fun when you play games in-person with other people. Board games force you to be physically and mentally present with other people. Video games rarely do that (unless you invite 12 friends over for a HALO lan party, which I also enjoy doing).

Back when Acme first opened, Friday nights there would normally be a group of 3-6 of us regularly going. We'd play for a while, go grab a booth in the restaurant and eat nachos and just chat about games/life/interesting things that happened. That was the most fun I had in my entire dance game lifespan.

Are we really destined to a future where upcoming generations won't experience this? I know many kids who are already incapable of social interactions with strangers. Facebook is terrible because it replaced voice or in-person conversations with people with simple "likes" and online comments. Seeing your friend smile when you tell them good news is so much more meaningful than getting a pop-up notification on a social network saying that your friend "liked" your post.

So yeah, those are my opinions. Thoughts?
Read December 30, 2014, 03:01:49 PM #1

This is my philosophy
Read December 30, 2014, 04:52:26 PM #2

Changes in socialism is so evident to us in the Entertainment indusrtry.  Every year, less and less people venture out to see and be seen in social interactive situations.  Part of the reasons Arcades see less traffic as the years go by. 
Read December 31, 2014, 12:14:04 PM #3

Interesting article and thoughts there. I can say that one of the biggest "bummers" about owning my own machine is the lack of that "third place" he talks about. Even though the player population up north (specifically at Evergreen Lanes) was never high, I found it relaxing to "get out of the house" once or twice a week for an hour play session. Just the fact that I had a destination to go to and I may or may not encounter familiar faces while doing so was enjoyable. Sure, now I've got a machine at my house, but I never get those chance, random encounters with other community members that could turn into something fun or memorable.

I remember getting to talk to Andyburns and Keby at that 2009 DDR US Championship for what felt like the first time. Most of my friends in this area I met directly through dance games at the local arcade in college. If I didn't have that incentive to get me "out of the apartment", I probably would have far fewer friends than I do now.

Regarding the loss of arcades; I don't know what can be done to combat it. Perhaps suburbia will slow down or reverse in the near future when traffic congestion and travel times to work become too burdensome and people start moving back closer to the city limits, or the city building up more in the outlying areas. Being in architecture, I read about that trend already happening. Despite what feels like "suburbia sprawl", many people are moving into Seattle and most are trying to live as close to the city as they can afford.

I remember when I worked downtown, I would sometimes go to Gameworks after a long work day just to relax (and let traffic thin) before heading home. Same thing is true for Power Play in Bellevue. I worked in Kirkland, but sometimes felt like heading a few minutes South to play some games, then drive trouble-free North back to my house. However, if there's no arcade nearby, it makes these after-work jaunts more of a hassle than an enjoyment. I would prefer it if we had more numerous arcades in the US, but smaller ones. Something about the size of Acme's arcade, located a few miles apart would be great. That way there'd always be a place nearby for kids to go to after school, or people like me to hit up before slogging through the terrible traffic home.

Rant over. That was fun. I hope it all makes sense, because I totally neglected to proof read this.
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