16 Sep 2005
shinjuku arcades - ubicomp mecca
Being Late and in Shinjuku
Not a good day today because we were late checking out of the hotel in shinagawa AND checking in to the guest house we booked for a night in asakusa. but luckily we weren't charged anything extra and was able to rest our heads for the night.
made it to shinjuku today, and it was awesome. cheap food, lots of shopping and we checked out the arcades that are amazing! i won't talk much about the shopping because it is way obvious that there ware so many damn japanese things you can buy, so i'll talk about food and arcades.
there's a street near the train station near the keio side of the station where they sell lots of concert tickets and tickets for basically anything. down a very narrow street are packed with some authentic japanese eating houses that serve things from noodles to grilled chicken skewers and all sorts of japanese food you can think of. it is where you should go if you want authenic japanese food, not your posh hotel restaurant. we managed to have some sashimi rice there, was very nice, not particularly cheap, but very good nevertheless. i hope to go back there before i leave. apart from that, there's a lot of good places to have noodles and rice everywhere in shinjuku.
i managed to check out some arcades which i do religiously every time i'm in japan, because that is where the real ubicomp is happening. it isn't on the streets because no normal person is passionate about input interfaces but gamers.
so i was so surprised when i saw this, a normal video arcade game driven by RFID cards! this is pretty cool. the concept is that you buy some cards that is enough for you to start the game, in the war game in the first picture, you only need 5:
but to better explain the concept you need to look at the football game. here, the guy has 11 cards, and basically he's laid out his formation of his team, including substutions, in true football manager style. now, he goes thru a series of cut screens about training them, and i suppose the usual football manager things, like injuries etc. when he starts playing, it is just like a normal game, he has some controls on the side to pass, control, shoot. and once the game ends, if he wins, there's a machine that spits out more cards for him in foil packets, just like those NBA collectors cards. and so he opens one of those up, and then places on an RFID card reader to register this new players he's just earned, or if he doesn't want it, then of course he could chuck it away.
if you finish with the game for the day, you can just pick up your cards and go home, come back another day. cool thing is though, during the game, he could move the cards on the RFID surface to change the formation during place. it is quite an interesting concept. bet you've never seen anything like that before.
other cool games include this coin rolling game. its kinda of like those games you get in arcades with a bunch of coins and you have to roll the coin onto a heap of coins and this coin pushing machine pushes the heap of coins and if you're lucky some might fall out for you to continue playing.
think of that game above, but in multiplayer mode. so what happens is that you're actually playing against an opponent, and if you win more coins than him, you get extra coins injected into your heap of coins. there are also more variations like its actually 2 player vs 2 player and there are slots in the coin pushing surface where if you manage to roll a coin into there, you get extra coins as well. its very fun to watch.
finally, there are some kick ass advance mahjong games with live commentary and virtual horse racing. of course, what visit to an arcade is complete without a go at the plushy toys crane?
You can reply to me about this on Twitter: