Mecca for gamers

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A good tour of Japan should always include a visit to the Mecca for gamers. Often just called ‘Gai-sen’ (ゲーセン) by the younger patrons, the ‘Game Center‘ (ゲームセンター) is like our good old Video arcades… but on steroids. From Sapporo to Nagasaki, people flock into windowless, five storey high buildings; cramped with state-of-the-art video game machines. A wide range of amusement offering roughly 10 minutes of thrills for a reasonable hundred yen.


Japanese entrepreneurs took the matter seriously when in 1978 ‘Space Invaders‘ was released. It’s fame swiped across the country resulting in a shortage of 100 yen coins nationwide! Following this success, Japan gave birth to hardware and software companies with international pedigree such as Nintendo, Sega and Capcom to name a few.

Nowadays, good ol’ Pac-man has retired and it’s a new breed of machines that takes the lead. More beautiful, more fun and more intense, the new generation of games is tested on customers of the future. Some of them though are purely designed to fit the Japanese market; games totally offbeat for the novice westerner. Fear no more as we will unveil the mysteries of Japanese gaming.

Let’s start with, probably, the most Japanese of all.  It’s concept is very easy to grasp: imagine you are a typical ‘salaryman’ coming back from a hard day of work just to find your ungrateful family not giving the slightest attention to you… wouldn’t you feel like going berserk? Now you can with “Cho ChabudaiGaeshi!” (超・ちゃぶ台返し!). Insert a coin and release your stress by flipping the table (Chabudai) over, breaking everything in the room!

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