A Message from Mike Watson about “Arcade Relief”

By on December 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Last Saturday, Family Fun Arcade ran one of its last seminal events entitled “Arcade Relief”.  As you know, at the center of it all stood not only the Arcade, but the man who kept it alive and well—Ralph. The entire day stood as a tribute, and relief drive for someone who has worked tirelessly for 38 years to give dozens of kids jangling quarters in their pockets a place to call home. And unfortunately, not everything went as well as it should have.

I can deliberate on it further for you, but I’d rather have the good Mr. Mike Watson give his side of the story:

This past weekend was a complete emotional roller coaster at the event I tagged “Arcade Relief.”  It was a charity fundraiser I came up with to help a dear friend named Ralph.  As you know by now, Ralph is the owner of Family Fun Arcade and has come up on some extremely rough times these past couple years.  Prostate cancer, nerve damage, a broken shoulder, you name it, it’s there.  The saying “when it rains it pours” unfortunately holds true during bad times for many people and I wanted this event to be that sunshine after the storm.  I wanted so bad for this event to be something monumental and memorable. So much so that it would stay in everyone’s heart forever, and put a stamp on the FGC. But most of all, I wanted this event to help Ralph turn his life around after he had done so much for the community in terms of innovation, hard work, and just being that landmark in the United States that held Street Fighter together during the good and dark years of the game.

The turnout at FFA was incredible on Saturday.  Starting roughly at 1pm the place was getting jam packed and I was really excited that this was gonna be something so huge that it would blow the roof off the place.  Be careful what you wish for, because approximately at 2am we had an issue with law enforcement and the city.  Someone snitched out to the police and an officer came down to talk to Ralph about being way over capacity.

Good news– the community showed up full force to support my friend and make this a night to remember. Bad news– hot shot cop doing his job to the fullest and not giving the gentleman any slack for what technically is the “going away party” for FFA since it’s closing down at the end of the year.

Now there’s two sides to everything, and I do understand the problem of public safety. I understand that no life is worth that risk, so shutting down the place wasn’t a completely horrible move. We spend a lot of time handling safety issues involving power outlets and making sure we weren’t putting anyone in danger, but regardless of any effort used, it’s a moot point when the fire marshal sees over 250 people crammed into an arcade.  So as most of you know, our 24 hour event was cut short at about 2:30AM and Ralph made his speech which can be seen above.

In the meantime, I was standing way in the back just trying to absorb the moment and realize all that has been happening.  This guy is pouring his heart out; I can see him struggling while talking to all the patrons that night while holding back his emotions.  Then we get a few chants of F-F-A and everyone seems very understanding that it’s time to go and we have no choice so we shut down.  We succeeded in a sense that everyone that came showed their support and people seem to just be having fun playing games and entering tournaments.  Now you might ask, what could be wrong?  Well, here’s where I’m going to be brutally honest and I’ll probably take a lot of criticism for my comments, but I’m ready.

This event was intended to be a fundraiser/charity event to help relieve a person who has been, and is the longest standing pillar in the community.  This event was supposed to help a person who has come across health issues and medical bills that are so large he can no longer live his current life and maintain his everyday tasks as an arcade operator, leading to the closing of this huge landmark in the community.  This event was supposed to help open the eyes and offer a history lesson to the newer players and members of our beloved FGC.

And as a local event, I feel I succeeded to the fullest, but as a fundraiser I feel that I’ve failed him, and feel heart broken and flustered.

We raised a good amount in person with the tourney donations, mind you there was no venue fee charged and all the money for tourneys went directly to the pot, and we also had a huge turnout which was good for the arcade in terms of people spending money on games and refreshments.  What we didn’t do was raise enough money from online donations.

I feel the community has done a great job of supporting people during rough times and came out full force.  Examples being the stick modder John Wade, who had a horrific accident and went blind in one eye, Chris Hu, who had his home burn down and lost not only his but his family belongings. Then we move on to Clockwork’s “Fight for Youth” charity event which raised money for less fortunate kids to go on field trips, and MYK who had an emergency room medical bill that he needed help with, and most recently Knives, whose mother lost her home to a fire and lost all their family belongings.  All these donation drives earned enough to help these people out, and I’m damn proud of it. I even put aside my differences with TriForce and donated money to him so that he could travel to bury his mother.  What’s my point you might be asking?  Well this isn’t a typical rant or me just being me, aka getting old and bitter.

This is me asking the community for one last effort to help Ralph raise enough money to put a dent in his problems.  I don’t want to sound like a beggar. I just want to give him one final send off after all he’s done.

Normally I wouldn’t even put out there how much was raised, but for paypal alone it was under $1,000.  This number is so miniscule if you compare it to how important the issue is and how big a role Ralph has played through the years of molding the scene we have all grown to be a part of.  Online raffles for sticks by so called “top players” get $500-$1000 dollars in donations, previous drives earned over $20,000 for people in need, Fight For Youth earned about $30,000, and this donation drive received under $1000?

Now go ahead and flame away, I totally understand people have the right to do whatever they want and donate to whatever cause they want.  I totally understand that times are tough for a lot of people out there, and we all need to worry about ourselves before helping others, but please take into consideration my point. He’s done so much for this community for 38 years, and he deserves our help.

I hate to blatantly call people out but this is serious and he really needs your help.  I have done everything in my power to make things better by throwing an event, entertaining the stream monsters, and sitting back hoping people will help.  Now all I can do is wait and see what happens by the end of the year and if my words will change anything.  Thank you all for showing up to our event, thanks to everyone who tuned in, and thank you to all of those who donated.  Everything that has been done already is greatly, greatly appreciated and I am hoping this final push will send Ralph off into a better place.

If you’d like to donate to Arcade Relief and Ralph, you can donate at www.arcaderelief.com.

VIDEO SOURCE: Christian Garrido’s Channel

Zaid Tabani has been contributing a steady stream of artistic content into the community ever since the resurgence of the fighting game boom. He's been responsible for many well known projects, including(but not limited to) the EVO 2K10 Intro Videos, The EVO 2K11 Theme Song(along with multiple other community members), the documentary series Run It Back and the upcoming film RANBAT. He was even featured in Capcom's "SUPER STREET FIGHTER IV 3D EDITION" commercial, due to his prior work with EVO. He also likes to dress up as a bat occasionally and fight a psychotic crusade against crime. That last part was a joke. Kinda.