Arcadia, the arcade from across the Bugis Street, closed it doors for good on the 24th of March this year, 2014. It was a great place for me really, where I began, where I grew, what I became in the FGC, I owe most of it to Arcadia. (and Colosseum. The people basically who powered these houses) It was the story we all worked really hard at, that we hoped would come out strong and victorious, but... There is always a but...
That's not what this is about. The whole "Memoirs" series had to come to this at some point in time. And about time, we take it back to THAT time, loaded with controversies, accusations, turmoil, hate... You name it. Just when you look back, you take all that away, it is also a story of milestones, achievements and happiness.
It was right around that time, planning for Round1's Birthday tournament, (Or was it after...) well, I got news that TL who had quitted Round1 wanted back, and was allowed back in. As one of the founding Fathers of the local FGC and the initiator of many things, he assumed the role right away and took charge. Battle Medley Singapore (BMS) was created that year to become Singapore's premier Major, as well as the coveted Tougeki SBO Arcade Tournament held qualifiers in Singapore for the first time in the history of the competition, much of that, you have TL to credit for putting those on a plate and getting the meal started.
But (always a "But"), we all did not agree immediately, the committee was divided. A division so great that would lead to a stepping down of 2, and the team was now cut to 4. I for one wasn't too happy with the SBO gig, because TL took it upon himself to touch base with Tornado (Management house of Arcadia/Colosseum) to work out a sponsorship for the event. Arcadia was always gonna be the direct competitor of our then no.1 supporting arcade, TKA, since they placed themselves right in the heart of Bugis, many saw that as a offensive move to try and take a piece of the pie. Nonetheless, TKA was doing many a good things for us then, with the support and such and I, was the sort of person who preferred to remain loyal to brands and services, to people who treated me well. I was very, very unwilling to do this. It was comparable to a footballer sponsored by Adidas, to be seen in public decked in Nike running gear.
So then, thanks to a 4 hour long conference call between TL, Ah Tet and I, nothing changed, we were still gonna go ahead and do BMS and SBO with whatever limited resources and manpower only thing, TL told me to go take the SBO project on my own, gave me full reins. Which at first I thought,
"Fucking smart. I never wanted to do this, you go give me full control like it's a big deal and then you go do the big one with BMS and the Japanese stars and the new version of Street Fighter. Damn good this deal." (The community at that time had no idea Choco and Momochi were headed to Singapore as the stars of BMS.)
Sometime later, we were at this hugely awkward meeting with some big shots from Tornado, hammering out the details of the sponsorship. I was there, Ah Tet was there... TL... I can't remember who else... Some were busy playing game across the street and I vaguely remember someone in that table said,
"Where is Eloise? Get her to sit in this meeting." (If you are familiar with the TXL timeline, Eloise would go on to become E.Tan and star in many famous TXL stories and take picture with you all.)
And this relatively tall, or was it the heels, tall, lady... Or a girl... Or a girl who looked kind of matured... Or what was it... Well this lady walk right through... The door... to our table, with a smile, and a dimple, and thick makeup, and I instantly INSTANTLY knew, just WHY she was sitting in for this meeting. They think they can wind up a bunch of nerds into making stupid decisions just by placing a very attractive lady in the meeting and making her the direct point of contact. HAH. Well clearly, they are underestimating these bunch of nerds.
Was what I thought.
Eloise and I would gon on to become very good friends thanks to the SBO project. Even before friends, we formed a remarkable work partnership, the likes of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton... Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore... Batman and Robin... You get the idea... It was so good until rumours started circulating within the scene, which would later become a staple of the scene, the part about gossip I mean, that we were perhaps too close... That there was something going on... Suddenly my agenda was a point of contention, people started doubting my integrity, questioning my standpoint, if it was for Round1 or for Tornado.
Less we forget, I never asked to be in this position. I never asked for this project, I did not want to do it. So...
Anyway, Eloise and I were in contact virtually every day. And any other day, I was seen having lunch with her, or she would pop by Bugis for a quick catch-up, and the thing about it was, we were always communicating, back and forth, throwing ideas, we had so much creative input together, so much we wanted to do with the SBO gig you wouldn't imagine. We wanted to turned the whole thing into a festival, take up the atrium space in Iluma, run a bazaar together with the tournament, it was gonna be a spectacle! And we pushed at every idea, we knocked on every door till they were closed, then we opened another. We could not stop.
In the end? SBO wasn't such a bad experience now was it? 2 qualifying stages, 1 Grand Finals for a trip to Japan to represent Singapore at SBO. Played at the club, Se7en (Now defunct), we had official merchandise, t-shirts and badges we sold to cover back costs, custom designed by the wonderful Matte. Eloise got us happy hour beer and a custom menu just for the Grand Finals where Vx and I sold a record amount of Chicken WING. Arcade cabs hooked up to 3 FUCKING BIG cinema-type screens on the wall. We had our own DJ, resident FGC DJ Niko, with a killer setlist to warm things up. Long before CEO did the ring walk-ins, we did it with tailored soundtracks for every team to walk out to. (My personal favourites were Dixon's team walking out to Taylor Swift and Paul's team walking out to Livin' on a Prayer) We streamed that shit out for what must have been a 8.95 divided by 3 million quality of the finals and had only 30 viewers! THE WHOLE SHIT WAS CRAY.
And I loved every minute of it. Right from where it began, to where we shut it down. That SBO Qualifiers, was and still is, my proudest moment in the FGC. And I couldn't have done it, without the support of everyone from Tornado... Zen... Eloise... Daw... That intern... Those shirt and tie people... I owe it much to them for they never said "No", they never said I could not do anything. They listened, they seek my advice, they gave me advice, but most of all, they trusted in me to make this work.
If I could turn back time and do it all over again, without a shadow of a doubt, I would jump at the opportunity... Minus the 4 hour long conversation on the first day of Chinese New Year.
Eloise would continue to help me even after the SBO gig. We pushed for a major overhaul of the BlazBlue community with the help of Arcadia. As much as TXL was born from Arcadia and Colosseum, so did Rebel2, and most people wouldn't know this, the nights Vx spent doggingly pushing for the Rebel2 concept and getting them housed under Arcadia.
When Yama came to me, many months later, after I was done with SF... Or BB... Again very much prepared to watch my hands off the FGC for the umpteen time, Yama came to me with the idea of starting a Wednesday NIght Fights kind of thing to kickstart and build hype and players for the then released Marvel Vs Capcom 3. What you would now come to know as BFF, Battlefield Fridays, was born from Iluma as well, this time as it was something we had to run on console, Colosseum opened their doors and their private gaming rooms to let us run this. Desmond even went as far as to allow us to use the projectors and that FUCKING BIG CINEMA-TYPE screen on the wall to project the matches. All for dirt cheap, I mean, what he was charging us, if that fucking big cinema-type screen were to malfunction under our care? What he charged us wouldn't even cover half of its repair fees.
BFF grew into something more than Marvel later, we started running other games and even went back to doing SF, which the good Technicians of Arcadia helped with unplugging and bringing the cabinets up to Colosseum and hooking it up to those fucking big cinema-type screens again. Week in and out.
Yet with all the support they provided for me, I never could match my only given KPI. I never could grow a player base in Arcadia. I never succeeded in increasing their existing player base. With BFF and Rebel2, I thought I could drive players there to practise and host training sessions, but that fizzled out and didn't sustain itself. In the end, the world became all too realistic. You never could take the TKA out of the FGC back in those days and players always complain about the lag cabs at Arcadia or the fact that nobody plays there so it would be a waste of time. No amount of convincing could change this. It became increasingly frustrating on both ends and you could see at that point, my working relationship with Tornado was coming to an end.
Adding the politics to the bag and a whole new plate of shit to deal with from in and outside of the community, it finally came to an end. We sort of reached a mutual understanding that was unspoken and we both just parted ways amicably and all activities that were running at Arcadia or Colosseum came to an end.
I am pretty sure I missed out on a lot up there didn't I... I didn't even mention about the great Singapore GameFest, that was worked with Tornado and Project RAMPAGE (What is this? Yet another product born from Iluma) but I guess that's another story for another time.
I've worked with many people in my time there, whether it was coming in as Jonda from the local FGC, Jonda from TXL, Jonda from RMPG or Jon Lim the Part-Time Graphic Designer, I can touch all 4 of my hearts and say, I was truly blessed to have met and worked with all of them and I will never forget the support they gave me right up to the end, the hospitality and privileges they gave me and still do, everything, I will always be indebted to. I love Arcadia, Colosseum, Se7en and Chef Daniel's, Eloise, Daw, Zen, Shunli, The intern, those shirt and tie men, the waitresses shuttering back and forth with the Chicken WING., the Arcadia Technicians (The indian one, the 2 chinese ones, the malaysian one), Shawna, Liyana, Desmond and Lynette and a then baby Leona, Daniel, Donald, Afiz, the prawn noodle aunty who remembers me till this day, everybody else who has been a part of my life and my work there, this is my sincerest shoutouts to you.
The Vice Capt.