While Visiting Two Video Game Arcades with Chris, a Bet Arises

Met up with Chris for the first time in ages. We headed over to Headquarters for a bit of lunch, and some video games.

On walking in, we noticed the place was more crowded than usual. A lot of sports jerseys everywhere, and very few open machines. In back, there were party favors for someone’s birthday, and the whole back room looked to be reserved.

After playing just a few games (and finding a few machines with stuck pinballs), we decided to head out to Wicker Park’s Emporium. While Headquarters has every game on free play (no cover charge, and you can just walk in and start playing for free), Emporium is modeled after an old-school arcade where tokens are used, and every game is a quarter.

While there were a lot of folks at Emporium, there was a clearer separation between those there to drink, and those there to play games. Machines were up against the wall, making it much easier to walk around and to identify which games were open.

After a few games, Chris and I found that we actually preferred having each game cost something, even if it was just a quarter. Unlike my experience at Nickel City Arcade, 25 cents seemed to be just the right amount of cost to give me pause, before simply jumping into any old game that was open.

In addition to the tokens, we decided to place a wager on the outcome… to see who won the most games during our time there. Chris would pick a game, and then I’d pick the next – an interesting way to work it, as sometimes we’d pick a game that we were strong at, and other times we picked something ridiculous that neither of us had played.

Thankfully, the terms of the bet weren’t so complex as to require the use of spitshake.com. The overall wager was very straightforward – at the end of each game, the person with the highest score wins. After all our tokens are done, person with the most wins is the victor. The loser then has to change their Twitter profile to say something about how the other person is the greatest video game player in the world, name-checking the winner using their full name and Twitter handle.

Though I don’t recall every game we played, here are the ones that I recall: Q-bert, Smash TV, Adams’ Family Pinball, Off Road, Metallica Pinball, Tron, Joust, Spyhunter, Theatre of Magic.

A favorite of Chris’, “Theatre of Magic” was a new pinball game to me. I quite enjoyed it, as the whole game was a nice mixture between super smooth ramps and fun mechanical elements (there are a few spots on the game that utilize magnets to great effect).

I am delighted to say that I ended up winning our informal bet. The score was something like 8-1, and I think I just got on a good streak when we entered Emporium (Chris was doing much better than me while we were at Headquarters).

So for the next week, keep an eye on Chris’ Twitter Bio. It’s kind of like my own, personal high score board.

Ever since this bet, I’ve been having a lot of fun trying to come up with future wagers. In thinking back on an old West Wing episode, where Toby and Josh make a bet wherein the loser, after saying his name, has to follow it with “I work at the White House.”

Potential stakes for the next arcade outing: For a week, whenever the loser says his own name, he has to follow it with “My mother says I’m the prettiest boy in school.”

This is dangerous territory folks. It starts out all fun and games now, but I’ve witness this kind of thing escalate in the past.

The last big bet I made involving pinball was with my friend Juliet, and though I swore I was going to win… she ended up beating me. The terms of that bet had the loser spend a full 24 hours wearing no clothes whatsoever.

Who knows – maybe we’ll end up using spitshake.com one of these times, after all.

Headquarters Beercade with Chris
Visiting Nickel City Arcade, Family Entertainment Center
Saturday at the Galloping Ghost Arcade
Helping Chris Move Two Newly Acquired Pinball Machines
Chicago Pinball Expo, 2010
Naked Day: A Pinball Bet Goes Horribly Wrong

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. So many bad, bad games in a row. I blame the Jameson. I look forward to reclaiming the title!

    Chris Reply

    • Look forward to it all you like, pretty boy. Ain’t gonna happen.

      avoision Reply

    • Did Chris even win on Theatre of Magic? He and I have both put in some serious time on that machine and if he didn’t beat you on that one… well… he deserves to be a pretty boy.

      Ben Reply

      • He did win one game, though I can’t recall if it was on ToM or not (we did end up playing that particular machine more than once).

        avoision Reply


    Allison Reply

  3. What about that Crazy Taxi game? I think that’s what it was called. You used to be good at that one.

    Juliet Reply

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