Nerd Incubators

Since 2006, most Tokyo game centres have housed dark rows of glowing pods that look like a clandestine genetic experiment from The X Files. Inside these nerd incubators are rich supplies of gamer nutrition flowing to every available inlet of the body.

At the hands are heavy throttle levers and weapon activation controls; at the feet are metal pedals. These connect the player’s limbs to those of a giant walking tank – the Mobile Suit of the ancient Gundam franchise. At the ears are rich speakers thumping from all sides and a headset communicator for coordinating your nationally networked team. Finally, at the eyes – and shining across your whole face – is a wraparound projection screen showing the vast, natural battlefield landscapes in which your robots charge at one another with rocket launchers and giant swords.

In the waiting area, pilots – and you must be a registered pilot – can watch battles unfold from a bird’s-eye view on a huge monitor. Battlezone and Virtual-On – grand beasts of the old canon – look by comparison like gawping, washed-up fish, surprised that they have legs.

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people