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World Flocks To NH Arcade Tournament


(NECN: Lauren Collins, Weirs Beach, N.H.) - It may look -- and even sound --like fun and games, but these folks are in serious competition. It's the Eleventh Annual International Classic Video Game Tournament, and it draws gamers from all over the world to Funspot, the landmark arcade in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire.

Gary Vincent of the American Classic Arcade Museum says there's something for everyone. "Some people are here trying to break Pac-Man records, and we've got some other people playing Missile Command."

"This is the best arcade in the world, " declares Paul Drury of Nottingham, England. He writes for the British magazine Retro Games and is back at the Tournament for the second time.

"Part of the reason I come, " he says, "is not just to play all the classics that I grew up with, it's to meet some of the people who are still passionate about that, and there are some real characters."

Like fellow Brit Tony Temple who is the current Missile Command world record holder. He's in a title fight of sort this year for the record he set his first time here in 2006.

"I still hold it, yeah, although," he worries, "there's a guy here this year who's getting pretty close, so we'll have to see what happens"

Part of the appeal is nostalgia. When you're immersed in a game you can almost believe that it is again the early 80s.

Vincent says when "you're here, you can close your eyes, and it's all those sounds you remember when you were a kid or a teenager going to the local arcade."

More than 150 gamers, most of them men in their 30s and 40s, are expected to play their way through the weekend and perhaps gain a little bit of glory in their revived hobbies. Only these days, they find the fun lasts well beyond game over.

Temple has made it into a two-week vacation where "we all come over and we all have a few beers, meet the guys here, play some games, have a look around."

And Drury says "I love my wife and I love my children, but sometimes it's nice to think that you're carefree again and can just play space invaders all day."

Whatever the game, and competitive spirit aside, this is an electronic escape, for the small price of a golden token.