Wes Copeland– Little Rock, Arkansas

I have always had a Defender cabinet in the home.  As a child, I remember vividly my dad and cousin would do woodworking all day and then play Defender all night.  There are many times that I fell asleep to the sounds of the machine.  I was very young when I played my first round… probably about eight or nine years old.

I’ve always been into games that require both deep strategical thinking and strong gameplay mechanics/fundamentals: mind and body, if you will.  There are very few genres that successfully pull this off, as most modern games tend to hold the hand of the player.  Before I switched back to arcade games, I was a competitive StarCraft player.  Beyond Defender, I have kill-screened Pac-Man and after only playing Donkey Kong for less than a week hit 250,000 points.

Up until last year, I had always been “good” at Defender… maintaining an average of about 150,000 points.  It wasn’t until the very first time I went to an arcade that I realized how good I actually was compared to everyone else, and I decided to stop casually scoring 150,000 and actually maximize my potential with the game.  Being around it my entire life, I actually understood the mechanics of the game extremely well, and my multitasking and speed were top-notch due to my StarCraft background.  Within about a month and a half I moved that 150,000 score to a little over 1.5 million.  Today I’m at a point that I can literally play as long as I want on a single credit.  I stop playing by choice.

My dad, even though he’s 60 now, still plays Defender with me on the old family cabinet when I go home to visit.  When he learned I was scoring so high in arcades, he decided to set the machine to Twin Galaxies Tournament Settings (with slightly higher machine difficulty) so our games wouldn’t take hours to finish.

Of course, ideally I’d like to top the ~540,000k score that is the Defender TGTS world record, and my TGTS scores are getting higher and higher on average.  We’ll see what happens.  My current goal is to finally get a Donkey Kong kill screen so I can offer my friend Jonathan McCourt some local competition.  I’m making great progress with that, as I’m captivated by DK as well due to the coalescing of mechanical skill and deep strategy.

Wes breaking the 1 million barrier for the first time, Arkadia Retrocade in Fayetteville, AR: Youtube


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