Long ago, I was the master of a few obscure old-school arcade games. Due to my distaste of waiting, and my natural inclination to stand apart from others, I was drawn to the most difficult games ever produced. Long before the invention of the smart phone, and even before the home video game, the arcade was the only place to go. As soon as you walk in, you experience a dirge of 8 bit music and a Las Vegas blast of color.
There were three types of video games. Some were very popular because they were instantly fun, you had to place a token on the deck and wait. Others were not so popular because they kind of sucked. Then there were the games I liked, these required an investment to master. These were the ones that people would play once, maybe for a minute, then die so fast they gave up in frustration. I would zoom in on the ones people yelled at for taking their quarters.
Defender, Battle Zone, Robotron, were just some examples. I became so good at these games that I could play as long as I wanted. Nothing beats the feeling of walking away from a game with your date, and have hundred lives left. I was invincible.
Then there was Major Havoc.
This game came into my life as a harbinger of changes to come, but I was unaware at the time. My life was as good as it has ever been. My Wife and I were still newlyweds, we had a nice apartment in Fairfield California, she was working at Macy’s, I was an Airman stationed at Travis AFB. We only had one car, so I would pick her up at work. Macy’s was part of the Solono Mall, and next door was a mini Arcade. I would play Major Havoc and she would meet me there when work was done. I got better at the game, and loved playing it, but never achieved the level of mastery I wanted.
Then I got orders, a long tour in England (three years). We packed up and left in April 1986. We have had many video games since then, but not a Major Havoc.
For Christmas my family got together and bought me my very own, no quarters required, stand up, Major Havoc arcade game. I almost cried. Best part, it required “some assembly”! If you know me at all, this is as important as playing with my new toy.
The ultimate measure of a perfect gift is not the gift itself, but the emotion that the gift invokes. Nostalgia, thoughtfulness, caring, and a chance to complete a long forgotten quest.
This was a Major gift.