Setting Description Template: Video Arcade


Rows of machines with colorful pictures on the sides, glowing screens, toggles, controls, buttons, coin slots, ticket slide, coin exchange machine, ticket counter, thin patterned carpet or polished flooring, wires, neon lights, claw games filled with stuffed toy prizes, washrooms, stools, racing games with seats, dance pads, basketball/hoop games, whack-a-mole, air hockey tables, shooting games, big game hunter game, motocross games, zombie or dinosaur killing games, dim lighting, glow in the dark lighting, front counter with cheap prizes behind it, small concession, display cases, kids with loops of tickets hanging out their pockets, teenage crowds watching a game where the high score is about to be broken, pale faces, money, tokens, signs on broken games, coin-operated toy/gum/stickers/candy machines, stains from spilled drinks on the carpet, posters & wall ads


Bleeps, bloops, recorded crowd cheering, game noises: car noises (revving engines, squealing tires, crashing noises), explosions, gunfire, booms, chiming bings from a pinball game, moaning, groaning zombies, growls, barking dogs, crashes, glass breaking, etc tickets being pushed out a slot, kids shouting, laughing, cheering, cursing, yelling, hands slapping together in a high five


Sweat, old carpet, dust, hot electronics, neon lighting (metallic), stale breath, hair spray/hair products, body sprays


Saliva, snack food (chips, chocolate bars, licorice), pop, water, energy drinks, gum, mints


Slippery cold coins in a sweaty palm, slipping them into the slot, jabbing at buttons, slamming hand against the side if the machine in frustration, grabbing a drink for a quick slurp before the next level kicks in, holding a rifle controller, squeezing the trigger, pressing foot down on the gas controller of a racing game, jerking the steering wheel, pressing back against the seat when you brake, tilting side to side as you drive, jostling teens, leaning against a machine, waiting for your turn, leaning an arm across the top of a machine, shoving hands into pocket for more tokens, panning a gun away from the screen to reload, then swinging it back, smoothing out bill flat to insert into the coin exchange machine, shaking out arms to loosen tight muscles before returning to the game, rolling shoulders, leaning in or hunching over a game, slapping a buddy on the back when he rocks the game, fist pumps, jumping up and down when a high score is beat

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Squinting in the low light, I searched the rows of gaming machines for Caleb. Where the hell was he? I called his name, raising my voice to be heard over the loud bomb blasts and gunfire belching out the nearby shoot-em-up games. A few teens looked up, and I was tempted to ask if they'd seen my nephew, but the flat-eyed stare they leveled at me was the kind reserved for pedophiles. Forget it--the manager had to be around her some place. I'd ask him.

Example 2:

Marcus was in the zone. He leaned in close to the screen, blue light bathing his face, clinging to his cheekbones and giving him an almost haunted look. I thought of all those horror movies where vampires hung out in seedy alleys to keep their true nature hidden. Man, the screenwriters had gotten it so wrong--if vampires really existed, they'd hang out in a place like this. Here, they'd blend right in.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

Annie might be a girl, but she still knew how to handle a shotgun. I was in awe watching her tackle the game, Blood Apocalypse--each zombie that stepped through the doorway barely made it a step before she blew it apart like an egg left in the microwave.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The center isle of the arcade was a flashing neon gauntlet of noisy shooting stations, pinball machines and Indy 500 race car games.

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ralfast said...

"Blood Apocalypse"?


I guess no real games or game designers were harmed during the writing of this post.

Angela said...

Hey if I designed a zombie video game, that is TOTALLY what I would call it!

Kirsten Lesko said...

I love the bleeps, bloops and exploding egg!

Bish Denham said...

I can close my eyes and still hear the bells and clanks of pinball machines!

Mary Witzl said...

I like the exploding egg too. Especially because it isn't in my kitchen.

Angela said...

Exploding eggs are awesome. But cleaning them up? Not so much.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yay, thanks for this Angela. I'm now writing a scene which partly takes place in an video arcade (instead of the beach). ;)


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