Lucky Wander Boy

LUCKY WANDER BOY is a novel about a character obsessed with computer games. Like “Run Lola Run” (the movie) the structure of the novel has game-like features as does the plot. The narrator moves through levels. There are a number of “replay” chapters at the end that play out different endings.

Weiss, D. B. Lucky Wander Boy. New York: Plume (Penguin), 2003.
The novel is both about games and has game features in text. It is also about someone who loves classical arcade games and wants to preserve them. There are meditations on individual games and game culture.

Some quotes:
“In my attachment to MAME, my thrall to its glamour and fascination, I had overlooked the crucial element the emulated arcade games lacked. Back in Warsaw, I’d been too quick to agree with Jeffrey that the essence of a game was in the running of its code, I’d sided too easily with the config against the Thing Itself. The MAME games were facsimiles that came so close to covering all salient points of the originals that I had not noticed what was missing: their aura. Their uniqueness, their spark, that something (or nothing) that resides in the Game Itself — not just in the circuit board but in the beaten-up plywood cabinet, in its side decals, in the ten-watt bulbs behind its translucent plastic marquee, in the synergy of all these things together — and is not passed on in a digital copy, however, perfect.” (p. 172)

A later quote then disagrees with this:

“Perhaps when things have been in our presence often enough and long enough to collect the familiarity that breeds simple nostalgia for machines like Atari and Intellivision in the minds of millions of people, perhaps by this time these thngs have been stripped of their aura for good. … I was not getting a the essences of these games. They were the Things Themselves, yet somehow they were not — they were my remembrances of the things taped to their corpses… ” (p. 178)

What we have is a history of production and consumption, including a second generation consumption as nostalgia. The second round of nostalgia consumption calls into question just what it was that was the essence of the consumption event. Some things (like playing when young) you can never bring back.