When you walk into most any video game arcade today, such as those found in Putt-Putt Fun Center and Chuck E. Cheese’s, you’ll see kids, teenagers, twenty-somethings, and parents milling about nicely carpeted, brightly lit areas, compulsively feeding tokens into hulking dance machines, three-dimensional first-person shooters, multi-player racecar simulators, and other such lavishly produced coin-op games.
Also prevalent are ticket redemption games, which typically offer a brief, mildly entertaining challenge (such as the skillful timing of a single button press) and, if the player is successful, a string of tickets to redeem at a prize counter. Ticket redemption games usually lack substance, (though there are some exceptions, such as skee ball), and their prizes are cheaply produced and/or way too expensive (anything of value typically costs hundreds or thousands of tickets). Most old-school arcade purists resent the ubiquitous nature of ticket redemption games, but kids seem to love their slot machine-like qualities.
“Handicapped. Disabled. Physically challenged. Crippled. Abnormal. Different. Every word to describe what I was, I’ve heard it all. Twenty-five years of living it all out. I've felt trapped, incapable, useless, and extremely dependent of others during the course of my usual day. My only escape is my perfectly capable mind. Something I have been blessed with all my life.”
So begins devoted gamer Mike Begum’s newly released autobiography, My Life Beyond the Floor, an 87-page e-book chronicling his adventures as a son, a brother, a friend, a survivor, and, perhaps most relevant to readers of this magazine, a serious competitor. Despite severe physical limitations, Begum, who wrote the book by holding a chopstick in his mouth, competes in video game tournaments throughout Texas and, recently, has been traveling to various competition events across the country.