Dustin Wilcox started writing about arcade games and industry news on his site Wilcox Arcade in February 2017, and it’s come a long way in a very short amount of time. How many 18 year-olds have their own popular industry news blog and small route operations company? We expect to see big things from Dustin Wilcox.
In this Community Spotlight, Dustin sits down to share why he writes about arcade games, talks about the industry, and his plans for the future.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m an 18-year-old college student from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, USA. Beyond arcade dwelling, I love TV animation, comic books, and early Taylor Swift music. I also enjoy drawing and, as you might suspect, writing. My interests are all over the map, though.
Tell us about Wilcox Arcade.
Wilcox Arcade is both an “industry news blog” and a very small route operations company. The blog, which I started in February 2017, is meant to highlight the arcade community and elevate the player’s perspective. The route is as much my gradual entrance into the coin-op biz as it is an opportunity to provide my community with more games. I know how important machine access is to individuals like myself.
How did your love affair with arcade games begin?
To me, arcades have always been just another platform to play games. I loved The Fast and the Furious: DRIFT and Big Buck Hunter Pro at the local Godfather’s Pizza just as much as I loved the games on my Wii or PlayStation 2. Once I entered high school, I stumbled upon Arcade Heroes, and my general passion for video gaming channelled into a strong appreciation for coin-op. Honestly, I chalk up my love of arcades almost entirely to chance. I wanted to get into the animation industry for a long time prior.
What’s your favorite game and why?
Choosing a favorite game is tough, haha. My favorite genres are beat-em-ups, rail shooters, and rhythm games (among others). Taking that into consideration, I’d say some key titles are Demolish Fist, Target: Terror, the Time Crisis series, the House of the Dead series, Dance Dance Revolution A, and Groove Coaster. Oh, and I can’t forget Skycurser. These games are my favorites either due to their impeccable quality, their importance to my life, or a combination of the two. But this list doesn’t even scratch the surface!
Do you have a favorite arcade (or a local arcade you want to give a shout out)?
It’s hard to pick a favorite arcade, too, but mostly because I haven’t yet visited hardly any that are on my “hit list”. I will preface with this: Most entertainment center arcades fall super short for me. They’re usually kinda loud and incredibly expensive, and the game selections are same-old, same-old. But a venue I absolutely adore right now is Round1. They’ve got all these amazing Japanese titles–including a hefty selection of music games–that I cannot find anywhere else. Plus, they more or less separate the video from the redemption, so you don’t get any weird “DDR Ace next to Down the Clown” moments. It’s a real arcade. I also really enjoyed my trip to the Galloping Ghost Arcade.
Who are you currently following in the arcade space?
In all honesty, I haven’t been able to find many content creators who discuss arcade gaming (let alone modern arcade gaming) the same way people like Scott the Woz, Arlo, Jim Sterling, ChiGuy, and countless others do home gaming. Most arcade videos are VLOG-style and redemption-focused, so they’re not my thing. But I really get a kick out of Mike Tomasz’s “Arcade Recall” series whenever he uploads. And I like the Arcade Heroes and Arcade Hunters stuff, too. On the blog side of things, Arcade Tokyo and The Arcade Blogger do really interesting work. (I think I name-dropped all the cool folks. Hopefully!)
What is the message you want your audience to take away from your work?
When people read my work, I want them to know that, first of all, I’m a gamer. I may dabble in some routeing stuff, but I really just love video games. And most importantly, I want them to know that they have a voice. Compared to the home console scene, the arcade player base, outside of maybe pinball and rhythm game players, is notoriously quiet. I want to hear what others think, bounce ideas back and forth, and use thoughtful discussion to push the industry forward. And if that means you want to start your own arcade blog, get online and do it right now! I’m so, so serious about that. So my push for a more active community is probably the big takeaway.
What does the future hold for you and Wilcox Arcade?
I most definitely plan to stay involved. Even though I have my qualms with the current landscape, I love arcade gaming so dearly. I want to keep playing games, writing about games, and providing games to other players. The end goal is, without question, to open up an arcade in Hopkinsville. To my knowledge, we haven’t had one since Huck Finn’s back in the ’90s.
Do you have any feedback for arcade game manufacturers?
Please, please, please, do not forget your core players. I see developers focusing intently on redemption, whereas the video games are becoming increasingly less…satisfying. We need our killer apps. Our Super Mario Odyssey, our Breath of the Wild, our Marvel’s Spider-Man. ANYTHING that will turn heads for more than just an LED-infused cabinet. I’d say House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were good steps in the right direction. Now, as long as we can get more stuff like that–high-tier titles like Tekken 7, for example–we’ll be solid.