Author Andy Hunt takes his memories of growing up gaming into new novel
by Patrick Scott Patterson
Originally published July 1, 2013
The highs and lows of video arcades of the 20th century impacted many. The darkened rooms with the flashing images and hot shot arcade champs are one thing that has yet to be duplicated by modern day video game consoles and mobile devices.
For Chicago author Andy Hunt, these two golden ages of coin-operated bliss also served as the backdrop for his new novel The Final Day at Westfield Arcade.
"Like many people, I lived and breathed video games when I was growing up," Hunt recalled. "I've always loved writing as well, so writing a novel with a very video game heavy slant to it only seemed natural. One bit of writing advice that is always given to writers is that you should 'Write what you know.' Well, I know classic video games, so writing a novel with a heavy video game angle to it seemed far more exciting to me than writing a novel about Ancient Egypt or bloodsucking vampires or some other weird topic that I have little interest in."
The fiction novel brings readers to the final day of business for a shopping mall video arcade where main character Mike Mayberry has worked for nearly two decades. As the coin-op behemoths are rolled out of the retail space, Mayberry thinks back to both his personal and video gaming based memories.
"The Wonder Years is my favorite television show of all-time, and I basically envisioned the novel as 'The Wonder Years but set in the 1980s as opposed to the 1960s,'" he said. "In my novel, a once-popular arcade is closing, and on the final day of business at the arcade, the owner reflects back on the decades of memories he's had at the arcade. There's a girl who's a Winnie-Cooper-type character, and, through his flashbacks to the arcade's earlier years, he tells the story of the ups and downs in their relationship, as well as chronicling the experiences that he and his friends have as they grow up."
While attempting to combine real-life arcade nostalgia with a fictional ride through a man's life, Hunt hopes readers will find enjoyment within it's pages.
"I honestly just hope people are entertained," Hunt added. "Hopefully, those who were fortunate enough to be around during the height of the arcade scene will be able to re-live the memories of screwing around with friends in the local arcade, and those who weren't around during the heyday of the arcade scene will be able to experience what the era was like through the book. I think nostalgia is a really powerful emotion to tap into, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who are nostalgic for those times when there was an arcade on every street corner and in every shopping mall, so hopefully the novel will rekindle that nostalgia that people feel for the classic arcade gaming scene."