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Arcade Mania: The Turbo-Charged World of Japan's Game Centers
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Arcade Mania: The Turbo-Charged World of Japan's Game Centers

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  152 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Home of Sega, Nintendo, and Sony, Japan has a unique and powerful presence in the world of video games. Another thing that makes Japan unique in the gaming world is the prevalence of game arcades. While the game arcade scene has died in the U.S., there are 9,500 "game centers" in Japan with more than 445,000 game machines.
Arcade Mania introduces overseas readers to the fa
Paperback, 190 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Kodansha (first published November 15th 2008)
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Peter Derk
My main complaint here is the layout. There are chapters, and within each chapters are multiple pages that deviate from the main story. Which is fine, but I wish these other pages and subsections came at more opportune moments, when there's a break in the main story where I can move to the box, then jump back into the story.

I have this almost compulsive problem with things like footnotes. Which is what stopped me reading David Foster Wallace, honestly. When I see a long-ass footnote, I HAVE to r
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is wonderful for anyone interested in Japanese culture. It truly exemplified the intricacies of the culture. Of the nine sections of the book, each provided insights on topics ranging from the popular (in the West) fighting games, and rhythm games to the more obscure such as crane games and sticker picture machines.

The book is presented in a family friendly manner with comments and pictures providing an immersive supplement to the text. I recommend this book to both gamers and non-game
May 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
The subject matter is interesting, but Brian Ashcraft is a terrible, terrible writer. Prepare to see lots of sentences ending in unnecessary exclamation points! There are a few interesting facts scattered throughout the book, and the final chapter covers a type of game that I hadn't been previously exposed to - so, if you're interested in Japanese arcades, the book might still be worthwhile for you. You may want to steel yourself for cringe-worthy writing, however.
Marc Weidenbaum
This breezy read covers the Japanese game-arcade community, as broken down into a variety of categories, including music-based games, card-based games, dedicated-cabinet games, etc. Each chapter handles the history of its area well, running through the requisite iterative improvements -- the evolutionary changes that turned Pacman into Grand Theft Auto -- and interviewing programmers, players, and other digital-entertainment figures. The list-like nature of the writing can become a bit routine a ...more
Jan 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've long been a fan of Brian Ashcraft's "Night Notes" on and his many free lance articles in many major magazines. When I heard he was writing a book about Arcade culture in Japan I knew off the bat it would be a great read. After finishing this quick read, I was not disapointed. This book is an entertaining look at Japan's game centers, the games inside them, and some of the people who frequent them. I think this book has something for everyone and is worth a read. I especially love ...more
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Arcade Mania is a fast-paced tour through Japan's gaming centers, as observed by Brian Ashcraft (, Wired) and Jean Snow. You'll learn more than you ever thought you'd want to know about bullet-hell shooters, card battle games and tricked-out photo booths. It's an interesting read overall, although the writing does tend to slip into dry, chronological recounts of certain genres (e.g., In 1995, Sega released X... followed by Y the next year... only to be superceded by Z...) from time to ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it
It was like a Japanese coffee table book. That is to say, a coffee table book in an octavo-sized package. The chapters were divided by arcade game type (shooting games, rhythm games, fighting games etc) Kind of interesting in a seventeen magazine kind of way (each chapter focuses on an expert in that particular game style). Published in Japan, so all of the references to price are in Yen, which I was too lazy to look up the conversion, so that was mildly frustrating but 100% my fault.
Wei Jen
Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: pop-culture
More a collection of articles, a fairly light entertaining read that's unfortunately somewhat lacking in substance. The articles don't really feel meaty enough and it would have been good if the author had delved more into each subculture.

As it stands, a nice introduction to the arcade phenomenon in Japan, but is by no means a complete account.
David Glenn Dixon
Jan 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Nice idea hamstrung by slapped-together chapters and magazine-y writing that manages to be both overexcited and bland. Nevertheless, Japan's arcades are not like ours (for one thing, they still exist). Read and learn--and emerge a little dizzy.
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gaming
It was a very short read, but that's okay: it offered bite sized glimpses into the world of gaming in Japan, which is evidently [i]completely[/i] different from the US. It's not particularly illuminating or deep, but it's entertaining, down to the quasi-magazine layout of the sections.
Alexander Case
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a good primer on Japanese arcade gaming culture in most of its forms. At $20 it's a little steep on the price side for its length though.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
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Brian Ashcraft is a writer based in Japan. He is the Senior Contributing Editor for video game site Kotaku. Ashcraft was previously a Contributing Editor at Wired Magazine and his work has also appeared in Popular Science, The Guardian, The Japan Times, and design journal Metropolis Magazine as well as publications in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy and South Africa. He has been interviewed ab ...more
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