Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Dave Dean, who currently is displayed on card number 614, from the Superstars of 2014 Collection. Dave was a top contender in major arcade tournaments in the 1980’s which was called the golden age of gaming. Dave took 1st place in 1983 at the first tournament held in Buena Park, CA. The first prize was a Sinister arcade machine. He competed in 1983 Video Game Masters Tournament in Upland, CA for the National Video Game Team. Dave submitted 6 world record scores in the 1984 Video Game Masters Tournament. In 1986, Dave took 2nd place in a major contest at a Prominent Hotel in Los Angeles. He won a Night Stocker video game in that contest. He also played in the North American Video Game Challenge in 1983 as part of the National Video Game Team contest.
If you could only have one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
Probably Robotron Video Game, or Adams Family Pinball. There have been many video and pinball games that I have really liked, but for nostalgic reasons, there was a time when I played a lot of those two games. I loved the random action of Robotron without having to remember mindless patterns.
Do you remember your first arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
The first arcade I remember, is the Flipper Flapper Arcade at the Riverside Plaza around 1980. I was around 14 or 15. This place happened to be a couple of blocks from my dad’s Health Food store, so it was very convenient. I would ride my bike to my dads’ store (2-3 miles) after school, then go to the arcade until he went home. This Arcade is where I first started to develop a “fan” club. I could play for hours on a quarter or finish a game, so a lot of kids would gather around when I would start to play. I also started out at a Straw-Hat Pizza and Shakey’s Pizza around the same time, 15 or 16. Soon after, Castle Park in Riverside was one of my main arcades.
Are arcade games good for relieving stress?
Yes and No. It does take your mind off whatever problems you have going on, but you do have to play a specific game that does relax you, but sometimes when I’m in a zone, just playing off muscle memory, I start to think even more about what is going on. But, when I play action games that I really enjoy, I play very intensely, so all the other emotions come out. I get angry when my character trips over a blade of grass, I get excited when I am battling a “boss”, annoyed when I cannot seem to shake the zombies. Just hanging around watching TV or whatever, I use my iPad like I would use a fidget spinner, I just mindlessly play to relax me but keep me busy.
Do you believe some games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
I do not believe in censorship, but I do believe in a rating system and age restrictions, although difficult to control. I also do not believe in pandering to the lowest common denominator and the politically correct radical activist that falsely claim that violent video games or movies encourage people to be more violent. There will always be cases of very troubled kids that do respond negatively to such exposure, but First amendment freedoms should not be overturned no matter the medium. I know it is easy to say it is up to the parents to control what kids are exposed to, and any negative outcome is their fault, but I also believe that there are way too many unengaged parents that have no idea or don’t care. Those kids fall through the cracks, and always will no matter the negative influences that are around them. We cannot just blame an entertainment source for failures at home or pre-existing mental illness. Games do not harm people, people harm people. In our household, we have followed more of a desensitizing approach by exposing our kids to more violent and scary content early with our supervision to help them relate to fake Hollywood vs. real life and for us to understand how much exposure they can “handle” and adjust accordingly. This exposure has helped them become more mentally ready and adjusted to handle “adult content” when they have been exposed to it when we don’t have control, because this will happen. I know of many examples of “sheltered” kids that have never developed the maturity level to appropriately handle “dark” content artistically or real. When sheltered kids do come across more adult content, they suffer more anxiety and tend to self-alienate themselves from the friends that have already adjusted.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of arcade games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
Honestly, when going to Dave and Busters or Boomers, I can’t find any game I like to play. I usually end up playing pinball, or games where I can win tickets for my kids. Today they seem to be more interested in making fancy sit down type games where you must constantly feed the machine to continue play. The games are nothing like the good ole days. I cannot get into them, not that I tried.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
No, but I knew I was ahead of my time. I always wondered what my life would be like if video game playing were a spectator sport like the major sports, and if I would still be on top with the added competition. I also wondered how I would compare to kids in rural areas that did not have any exposure to contests.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the trading card? If so, where?
Yes, at the Arcade Expo in Banning, CA. There were some photographs taken. One was published in the Guinness Book, but I was just off the edge of the photo.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I first met Walter Day at the Arcade Expo, Banning, CA in 2015.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Dedication. Walter Day has committed his life to recognizing accomplishments in video gaming. This Dedication cannot be surpassed by anyone. He strived to organize competitions in the most fair and adjudicated way, which is a near impossible task organizing these competitions and tracking scores from all over the world. He is a living legend in the gaming industry whose name, and accomplishments should/will always be held in the highest regard. He is a generous arcade gaming historian. He has kept the classic games alive and games in the spotlight with his trading card series and he has given out many awards of recognition throughout the years to those who excel in this field.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
When I was a kid, I played a lot of the Matel Handheld Electronic Football Game. Other than that, I only used my iPad Mini.
Do you prefer the original arcade or MAME gaming and why?
I always preferred the original. Mostly for nostalgic reasons, and worried that they would not be true to the original factory settings. I was not playing seriously anymore when the MAME counsels became popular.
Do you remember your first pinball game you played and what do you remember about it?
I do not remember my first pinball, except for maybe Playboy, because it was “Playboy”.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I currently play PlayStation or Xbox games like Days Gone, Red Dead 2, Wolfenstein, Laura Croft Tomb Raider, Mad Max, Halo, or Horror Genre games like Resident Evil Series, Evil Within Series, Last of Us 2, Alien.
I have enjoyed many genres of the 1980’s as long as the games were challenging. The games I also play are ones that my kids play that include strategy, puzzles and shooting.
What does it take to be an arcade champion?
To be an arcade champion, you must have both a physical and mental aptitude. You must have excellent hand-eye coordination and a strategic mind. You must have that competitive spirit that you cannot teach. You must be a perfectionist with the patience and skill to repeat exactly the same motions perfectly for hours on end. But, mostly, you need time.
How does music influence games past and present?
For me, in the past, music only had an impact as far as the “catchy” tunes go that will always be engrained in my head forever. Who on this planet does not know the Pac-Man sound effects?
Are arcades aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
All ages, wherever they can maximize profits.
Do you prefer playing arcade games alone, against friends and why?
In the old days, I usually played by myself. I just wanted to be left alone to focus and get high scores secretly. Today, I will play with my kids on Xbox. When we can, we play on split screen, or we trade-off playing. The whole family likes to play story type games together. I.e. Resident Evil, Evil Within, Alien, Tomb Raider, Last of us, etc. My wife loves to watch the Horror genre games, so that is what we usually play.
Which company makes the best arcade games and why?
During the “Golden Age”, Williams was probably my favorite. Defender, Robotron, Sinistar and Joust have been a some of my favorites. Have won more contests on those machines.
Do you learn anything from playing arcade games?
I do not think you “learn” as much as you “develop” certain skill, i.e. Coordination, strategy and dedication. You learn analytical skills like systematically executing something to perfection. Team skills when playing with friends. You of course exercise your memory.
Who is your favorite game character and what makes that character special?
Laura Croft. Kick-ass chick, very humble, but uses intelligence combined with athleticism does not muscle and mayhem to get through the challenges.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘arcade?
I immediately think of a large square room, dark lights, lots of gaming noise with rows and rows of stand-up video games and pinball games.
What is your favorite arcade game of all time?
It is probably a tie between Defender and Robotron.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
Vigilante or underdog type character. Strategy and Puzzles challenging to complete. Fair amount of shooting and weapons skills required. Challenging objects to discover. Storyline with campaign with lots of challenges in open world environment. But also, something where you can earn a” score” or “trophies” to be compared to other players, but enough randomization where you can’t just watch a YouTube and become an instant expert. Although, I do not mind a little massive carnage from time to time with clear evil bad guys, preferable realistic characters, including zombies.
Where do you see arcade games in the next 20 years?
More realistic simulator type machines, expensive to make and expensive to play. Lots of whistles, bells and shiny objects.
This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.