After the storm, we all see rainbows.
In the summer of 2012, the news was broadcasting the news of the typhoon’s landfall: “On August 8, the ‘Haikui’, which has been strengthened into a strong typhoon, officially landed in Shanghai, and the violent storms it brought caused serious damage to our city and surrounding areas. Major impact, please minimize travel and pay attention to safety.”
But Honglian completely ignored the suggestion to “reduce travel”, and went out the door quietly. The destination of her trip was an arcade game hall in a large shopping mall, specifically one of the audio game frames.
Terrifying news reports at the time
Fortunately, after barely holding on to the wind and rain and getting into the subway station, the rest of the journey was indoors. She went from the subway directly to the basement of the shopping mall to the airport hall.
Perhaps it was because she had been frightened at home, and seeing that she had arrived home safely, the family did not scold her too much. They were all taken aback by Honglian’s dedication to this hobby. In addition to typhoon days, she also slipped into the hall to play music games on New Year’s Eve. Later, during the festivals, these two incidents became a joke told by relatives banging melon seeds.
For this hobby, parents are supportive in attitude, but they cannot fully understand it. But Honglian knew exactly where this love was ignited, otherwise she wouldn’t stand in front of the machine and dance her hands to the music, playing for 13 years.
The first contact with the sound game arcade was a coincidence for Guren.
She was still a junior high school student at the time, and was dragged by her classmates to play in the arcade hall. Originally, their goal was to catch lighter machines such as the doll machine, but even though the noise filled the entire venue, she couldn’t help but be attracted by the dancing music on the side.
Before that, due to being exposed to various social news, and her parents also instilling an impression on her, Honglian had always had a negative view of the arcade hall, “thinking that it was a place only for street stalkers”. It was not until her classmates brought her here that she realized that there were so many different games, far more than just pushing coins and fishing.
After hesitating for a while, Gulian stepped forward and played with the unfamiliar machine. Later, she learned that the game was called “DJMax Technika”, which became her favorite arcade music game in the future.
The game is not well known, but the player community is very active. It was only after entering this circle that Hong Lian realized how strongly her fellow fans loved her.
When a new generation of machines was first introduced into China, they would queue up all night in the airport hall, just to experience the new version for the first time, so they almost didn’t bring their own tents. After the release of “DJMax Technika3”, the newly launched clan system allows players to spontaneously form multiple guilds. The “ZZ Maniac” team that Gulian belongs to not only actively organizes team activities, but also specially designs T-shirts and other peripheral products, and even customizes cards necessary for each member to log in to the game, making her “feel an expert when queuing up” one head”.
Her clan card and other card collection
It’s just that just 5 years after the first generation of “DJMax Technika” came out, the game was suddenly notified by a notice that it would stop the network service, which is fatal for an audio game that requires an online login.
In order to save the game, players quickly organized and built private servers to connect the global machines together again. This briefly extended the life of the game, but without the update of official tracks and gameplay, this group of players gradually switched to other audio games. When Red Lotus checked the private server website again last week, he found that there was only one machine left in the world that was still online.
In the face of the disappearance of the game, foreign players were dissatisfied with the official hasty burial, and planned to hold a “decent funeral” for it at their own expense. They crowdfunded a documentary “Touch the Voice” and visited multiple groups of industry insiders and players in the United States and South Korea. While figuring out that it was the bad operation of the game that caused it to suddenly come to an end, I also used the players to say goodbye to it with uniform reluctance.
“This is the story of an audio game that was abandoned by the company and embraced by the player community. It forged lifelong friendships.”
Of course, there are definitely more than just players of the audio game “DJMax Technika” who have extraordinary enthusiasm. In order to play the game, it seems that time-consuming and laborious things, such as setting up a private server by yourself, manually spelling out a magic modification machine, etc., are not uncommon among this group of players.
In China, in addition to the arcade halls that are accessible to the public, there are many underground shops in the music game circle, which they call “the nest”. The profitability of these stores is limited. Since most of them do not have a license, they still face the risk of being investigated and punished. If the store owner does not like it, it may be difficult for anyone to accept this kind of underground worker-like life.
If you want to get the store address, the first step is to add the boss friend “pair password”
It’s just that even with the addition of these audio game nests, there are still too few places to play audio games in China. Players like Gulian who have had the opportunity to come into contact with music games since childhood are undoubtedly the few and lucky.
The domestic niche of audio games is destined to be very limited in the revenue capacity of machines, and the willingness of stores to introduce new games and new machines is naturally not high, which leads to the domestic audio game culture still only pacing in some big cities.
The 46-year-old Lao You is Tom Bear’s machine maintenance manager in central China. When he doesn’t go to other places, he often stays in the store in Chengdu Fortune Center.
As an industry insider who has been in the industry for nearly 20 years, when he first came to the domestic market, Laoyou “sees a desert”. Even with the relatively mature and ready-made experience from the Taiwanese market, they cannot develop an oasis overnight.
In their store, “the (audio game) machines are bought one by one to try the player’s reaction”, and it has the current scale. This was the case in first-tier cities more than ten years ago, and it was the same in second-tier cities a few years ago.
Now, on Bemanicn, the audio game map written by domestic players, you can already see that there are stores that can play audio games in all regions of the country, except for first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. However, most of them are still concentrated in provincial capital cities, and there is still a lot of room for development, whether it is the number of stores or the number of machines in the store.
Covering all provinces, cities and regions across the country
In addition to the need for a little training in the market, in Laoyou’s view, the concepts in some industries also need time to change. Even among several large domestic agents, some of them “don’t know much about audio games”. They attach great importance to the number of machines sold, and even sell them directly to audio game nests that are not necessarily qualified. Instead, they don’t care much about the game-level operation after the frame is sold.
As a result, many games have a lot of machines, but it is difficult to maintain their appeal to players for a long time. After the good momentum brought by the outstanding quality of the game was exhausted in the early stage, both sales and popularity gradually weakened.
The exterior scene of the shopping mall of Laoyou sitting in the store
At the same time, in terms of talent accumulation, the newly dug pool in this desert also needs time to accumulate.
Different from other machines that “just make it bright”, audio game players will also pursue the feel of the machine. Too high latency, too loose keys, or out of sync audio and video can have a major impact on the gameplay experience. If the technicians themselves do not understand audio games, it may be difficult to understand what these players are “picking” loudly and loudly, and they will not have the patience to figure out what kind of feedback is “accurate” and “comfortable”.
If you only pursue the most basic “running”, this machine, which can cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands, will soon be abandoned by players from disgust. For shopkeepers who don’t understand audio games at all, many times these machines are far from being paid back and no one cares. They naturally don’t think it’s their own problem. They can only blame the machine’s poor ability to make money. There will be another purchase.
The shop that Red Lotus frequented in Shanghai in the past was also demolished for various reasons (see the watermark for the source of the picture)
In addition to being responsible for machine maintenance, Laoyou will also participate in the company’s talent training. But even if he did not forget to teach these details to his own technicians, he would still encounter many failures that required him to take action personally, “I want them to learn and remember that there is a process.” Usually sitting in the office near the store, he often welcomes players who come to the door to report for repairs.
Players call him “You Director” and know that he can be found in many player groups, and many people also know the location of his office. They knew that Lao You was also a senior player and knew what they wanted, so they looked for him when they encountered intractable diseases.
Laoyou is also willing to solve these problems for players. It is both a job and a hobby. Gradually, he became familiar with this group of players. So that when buying a new machine, the opinions of these players can also become an important reference for him.
The performance attribute that comes with the audio game gives all players the opportunity to get a few minutes of much-anticipated attention. Everyone is not only a performer under the spotlight, but also an audience standing in the crowd. After a few rounds of the game, the players who communicated with each other naturally became one. In addition to the repairs, Laoyou will also stand among the players, chat with them about audio games or other things, and get to know a lot of players, and let the players know him, the director who likes audio games.
When living in Chengdu, Honglian also often went to this machine hall, and vaguely felt that the operation here must be very familiar with audio games, but she never had the opportunity to know Laoyou. However, she also knew a lot of friends because of the music game. It seems that everyone is immersed in the music game arcade, but in her opinion, the music game has a natural social attribute.
The average game time is nearly ten minutes. As a result, players with less monk meat porridge spend more time in line than playing in the machine hall. Fortunately, they only need to put the ID card there, and then go forward to play in the order of stacking the cards, without having to stand in a row.
This gives them plenty of free time. Whether it’s forming a circle to watch the players playing the game, or gathering in groups of three or five to discuss their experiences, this is a natural social field where you can chat a little bit.
At the beginning, everyone was discussing the game and sharing the skills in the game. After getting to know each other gradually, I naturally spread the conversation to a wider field, talking about studies and life, and gradually became friends with common hobbies.
In each province, each city, and even subdivided into each hall and each game, there will be its own player community. Whether in Chengdu or Shanghai, Red Lotus has made many friends because of this.
In 2011, Honglian (second from left) took part in the competition in the hall
In junior high school, Honglian once set up a group for “DJMax Technika”, and added friends who played this game together in the machine hall. Everyone chatted and the atmosphere was very harmonious. Under the word of mouth of the group friends, there are more and more DJMax players from all over the world, and the atmosphere is still the same. At the largest scale, the number of people in the group has reached a quarter of the official player group.
During the 2010 World Expo, many group friends had to go to Shanghai to see the exhibition, so they agreed on a one-day time to meet offline. When we first met, the group of friends who were “a little bit socially afraid” did not call themselves brothers as they did on the Internet, and they all had the embarrassment of not knowing people.
When they got the ID and the real person, and came to the familiar audio game machine, everyone quickly chatted up and down. “I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but everyone should have been quite happy that day.” Red Lotus recalled.
High-gloss photos taken at the offline party at that time
“And now it’s not just outside the game that there is social interaction.” According to Honglian, many audio games have also integrated some social elements.
For example, “MaiMai”, whose frame is similar to a washing machine, mostly consists of two machines, and a double mode is specially designed. After one starts the game, the other will also be forced to start the “preparation” state. Simply put, it’s like a fighting game machine, either wait for the game to end, or join it.
Many games have their own house dance elements, which will also be fully promoted by manufacturers. Many game officials have invited “Danjian” to promote them, making them famous outside the circle. This often attracts some girls wearing Lolita costumes to come here, further attracting the attention of passers-by, so as to discover more potential players.
For example, “Dance Evolution” launched by KONAMI once cooperated with Japanese “Mai Mi”
“There are still quite a lot of players who are constantly entering the pit, although our group of people don’t play much.” Red Lotus, who has just stepped into the society, has recently spent a lot less time playing music games. Most of the group friends who used to chat hotly faded out of this circle earlier.
A generation will eventually be limited by the rush of life, but there will always be people who are still young in music games. Honglian doesn’t seem to be worried about the development of music games, and she never doubts that the enthusiasm of everyone in the group has waned, “it’s just that there is no time”.
Now in the group she created, there are still people talking from time to time, but as everyone spends less and less time playing music games, the chat is mostly stripped of the topics after music games. The last time someone chatted in the group, it was still “what’s for dinner?” “I don’t want to go to work today.” It was no different from the most common water group among friends.
Just like all journeys have an end.
In July of this year, Honglian, who had graduated and left Chengdu, suddenly posted a message in the space. The Tom Bear that she used to go to was about to close—the one that Lao You was in charge of, very suddenly.
Before the epidemic, the mall decided to reorganize the first three floors. The store in charge of Laoyou is just located on the fourth floor, but the decoration of the lower three floors has not ended because of the epidemic, and it has been delayed until now. In the case of repeated epidemics, without the flow of people on the first three floors, their operations are more unsustainable, and they finally made the decision to close the store.
The dynamic that Gulian saw
At that time, Laoyou and other managers thought about holding another game on the last day of the closed store, but before he could say it in the group that was fried into a pot of porridge, the players also came up with the idea. So on June 30 this year, this arcade hall, which was open on the last day, ushered in an event of unprecedented scale, and it was also the last time.
Not only did the number of people who signed up for the competition reached three times that of previous events, but many former regulars heard that the store was open on the last day, and they came to watch the fun after get off work, and the venue was overcrowded.
Near the closing time of 12:00, after most of the machines were gradually shut down, only one “Dance DX” was left on. The last player deliberately chose a song “Believe in Rainbow”, which is the last song of the previous generation of the frame, which represents the end of an era, and also means the arrival of a new generation of games.
Everyone called the machine that was still playing songs
In such a finale, all the players in the audio game area said goodbye to this place that has accompanied them for nearly 10 years.
When the hot machine gradually cooled and the bustling crowd dissipated, they did not leave much sadness behind. Because these players know very well that after waiting for a while, whether it is these machines or them, they will light up again in another field.
The last few lines of the song may still be echoing in their minds:
“Collecting colorful light, how far a journey is but a moment… I will see rainbows, and we will all see rainbows.”
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