Trading Card Spotlight Lauren Featherstone

Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Lauren Featherstone, who is displayed on card number 2752, from the Superstars Collection of 2017. Lauren is the current World Record holder on the arcade game “Tapper.” With a score of 14,000,600, she played for more than 24 hours straight before walking away with lives still left. Lauren broke the previous world record after 18 hours and kept going as the crowd cheered her on. Lauren has definitely set the bar with a score that will be hard to beat. When not playing her favorite arcade game, Lauren is a yoga and fitness instructor and a student pilot. 

If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why? 

Even though Tapper is my personal favorite, at home I would probably choose a pinball game like The Machine: Bride of PIN•BOT. It’s visually interesting and challenging, but still very accessible for any visitor to play, young or old. Anyone can win or lose a match!

Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?

I only really got into arcades recently, so probably the first video game I remember playing was Duck Hunt on the NES. Simple concept for a young child, but lots of fun. My grandma also had Castlevania, BurgerTime and Dr. Mario on the NES, which I have now enjoyed playing in their arcade formats.

When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?

I first met Walter Day on stage as he presented me my trading card certificate at this year’s Classic Game Fest in Austin, TX.

If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?

Enthusiastic! Walter has been involved with video games since the very start, and he still acts just as excited about them as I can imagine he was when he first opened his arcade. His passion has inspired people from all over to go for world records and fall in love with these games. It seems his enthusiasm is contagious!

Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video Game Trading card? 

Absolutely not! Like many kids growing up in the 90s, my brother was the gamer, not me. It wasn’t until Free Play Arcade opened in December 2015, that I discovered games I could really connect with and pursue high scores (and eventually a world record) on.

Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card?  If so, where?

Not for the trading card specifically, but I have been featured for my Tapper world record in The Dallas Morning News, The Dallas Observer, Settle It on The Screen, UTD’s student newspaper The Mercury, Dallas Magazine, and soon TempleOfGeek.com.

What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?

Whatever classic cabinet hits the arcade floor! Of those, platform games, time-management games and of course pinball are some of my favorite.

What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?

Home consoles hooked up to a TV. It’s weird for me to think of arcades or cell phones as places for “video games,” because I’ll always have that image of the Nintendo sitting right next to the VCR.

Which console company is your favorite and why?  Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft?

Nintendo’s early games had such great crossover with the arcade world. I enjoy the colorful, charming style and whimsical worlds.

What does it take to be a Video Game Journalist?

As I am not one, I do not know! I would think you would have to stay in-the-know and on top of news, as so many new games come out all of the time. The gaming world has expanded greatly. I can’t imagine how you would keep track of all the apps alone!

How does video game music influence games past and present?

Video game music plays a key role in creating the tone of the game. As games have increased in complexity, their music has done the same. But the simple tunes of Donkey Kong, Dr. Mario, or other classic games can be remembered for years after the game was played.

What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?

I don’t have one yet, but the Nintendo Switch seems promising! Another way to play games with multiple people, in-person, with the flexibility of going out and about.

Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents, or adults?

I think there’s a little bit for everyone. However, the divisions of modern games are more pronounced. In the 80s, one arcade cabinet could be played by a 5-year-old to a 50-year-old. Now there are games that are clearly not suitable for children or not entertaining for adults.

Do you believe some Video Games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?

I think in our society we associate masculinity with violence, and since many violent games are targeted to young men, it’s easy to make that correlation. However, the reason for violence in America is more about how we raise our male children than what video game they play.

Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?

Out with people, some I have met and some meeting for the first time. I have made so many good friends at the arcade, and it never would have been possible if I only played video games alone.

Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?

Making a movie from a video game is like making a movie from a book. Hollywood has its own funding set up and expectations, so rarely do we get a fully accurate representation. That being said, some movies like “Wreck-It Ralph” can renew videogame interest across a wider audience, which is ultimately beneficial for the game.

Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?

Mario wins for being so timeless! The fact that this character can continuously develop but stay true to its original self and appeal to multiple generations of people is truly remarkable.

Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why?  Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style

Gameplay makes all of the difference in classic video games. Using a tap vs. a steering wheel vs. a gun vs. a joystick… All of these mechanics are why arcade games are so much more enjoyable than their MAME counterparts. It makes them unique and interactive. Each game is a physical challenge in a different way.

Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?

Not necessarily! My favorite game, Tapper, doesn’t even have boss battles. Same as Popeye, Arkanoid, pinball, and so many other great ones.

What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?

Favorite single player game is Tapper. Fighter games like Super Street Fighter II Turbo are great for playing strangers and friends alike.

Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?

I would say console only because the last time I played a PC game was probably Oregon Trail in the 90s!

If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?

I think I would make a game about arcade gamers … so meta! There would be four main characters, so you could choose the one you like or associate with.

Which company makes the best games and why?

I love different company’s games for different reasons. Too hard to choose just one!

Do you learn anything from playing video games?

Absolutely. You’re making your brain learn new skills, tricks, memorizations… it’s a great way to keep the brain active and healthy.

Are video games good for relieving stress?

Depends how you go about playing the game. Some people can get a little too worked up. But if you remember it’s all about having fun, it can be a nice break from the stresses of everyday life.

What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games?  How do you compare them to older, classic games?

Even though I wasn’t alive when classic games were at their peak, they definitely appeal to me much more than the modern game. There’s some really remarkable technology and art in the industry today, but complex games based on missions, first-person shooters, and such are oftentimes too time-consuming and serious for me. Probably the biggest difference is the community. I love standing up, huddling around a cabinet and getting to meet people face-to-face. Arcades are my version of “going out.” Modern games, perhaps with the exception of Pokemon Go, still usually mean sitting at home.

Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?

Yes, and I plan to be for a long time! Not too far from now, I hope to go for another world record. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying supporting my arcade community, trying games I’ve never heard of before, and participating in local, casual tournaments.

Where do you see Video gaming in the next 20 years?

I definitely see VR taking a larger role, which can be used in so many interesting formats. I think there’s also some renewed interest in classic games, but presented in new ways, like a hip, urban barcade.

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