Standing in a darkened room oscillating wildly to the electronic noises of the the future. That pretty much sums up my entry into the world of video gaming before home computers and consoles provided that elusive fix right in your own home. You'd happily burn through a stack of loose change proving your worth on some impossibly evil example of twitch gaming, and emerge blinking into the daylight poorer, but happier. Who could forget the triumph of the high score? This phase was like the punk explosion, the manic pop thrill, the sugar high of instant entertainment.
Where we are now resembles the latter days of progressive rock era of the 1970s, when pop hooks were disregarded in favour of epic soundscapes, infuriating noodling and pretentiously named bands full of pompous self-worth. Some games these days have all the appeal of a ten-minute drum solo; technically it might be amazing, and you'll nod sagely with beardy approval, but deep down what you really want is a stomping two-minute-thirty slice of hook-laden perfection. With attitude. Verse chorus verse, middle eight, key change, heart-melting 'ba-ba-ba'-laden chorus to fade, thanks. Job done.
Gamers are no different. We want to pick up the pad and be entertained now, not in two, three hours time when we've played through the sprawling tutorial and learned 28 combos. Not all of us have got time for that. Life's too short. And that's another slightly long-winded way of us getting to the point of why Xbox Live Arcade is one of the best ideas Microsoft has ever come up with.