Skill or die!
When you put real money into a real arcade machine, you either have the skill to get your money's worth, or, you don't, and you die a quick, expensive death. Young gamers who are discovering arcade games for the first time through MAME may have never been in the presence of an original arcade machine before and probably have no concept of what it's like to pump hard-earned money into one. It's a completely different experience to grabbing a console game, paying for it once, and keeping it forever. The hardcore arcade gaming culture that gave rise to the one credit clear (1CC) philosophy is something they should learn about. It dismays me to see young newcomers totally abusing MAME's functions by casually credit-feeding their way through great games... such a senseless waste.
Here's a simple example from my past to further illustrate the concept of what it means to strive for an arcade 1CC.
When there was still a local arcade in my town I would usually play a few games of Raiden each visit because Raiden is such an awesome shoot 'em up. So, picture this...
I put some credits in and start playing. After a decent amount of time, I lose my last life, say for instance, somewhere in Stage 3. At this point I have two options: 1) use a continue and get further along in the game, or 2) run the continue timer down and start over. Which option do you think I'm going to take? If you answered option 1 then you couldn't be more wrong. Here's why.
By now I'm in a far more difficult part of the game than when I started so if I continue I'm not likely to last very long. I don't want to rip myself off like that so the only sensible choice is to start a new game. That way, not only do I get maximum entertainment value for my dollar, I get repeated practice in the areas of the game I'm already familiar with, steadily improving my skills and my chances of getting deeper into the game with each credit.
You can start to see how arcade 1CC culture was born out of necessity more than anything else; the need get the most out of every precious coin. Gaining prowess is a necessary by-product of that endeavour; there's nothing elitist or holier than thou about it. Even if you never achieve an arcade 1CC in your life, you'll still accomplish something worthwhile in the attempt; increased proficiency and a greater appreciation for the finer points of the game you're up against. It can be fun and rewarding to concentrate on trying to master a demanding game.
If you've never tried to do an arcade 1CC before, why not give it a go? It's an admirable goal for any gamer to have. Challenge yourself! Pick a really cool arcade game which has the continue feature and don't ever use that option; ignore it; pretend it's not even there. Do a few single credit runs every day for several weeks. The results may surprise you. A game that at first glance seems virtually impossible to beat with a big pile of credits, let alone one, may gradually start to reveal a glimmer of hope that you just might 1CC it someday.
Good luck and have fun!
Here is the format for headings of 1CC video posts if you want to do it yourself:
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The post subject should also be for the video, instead of the default "Re: Zen of Arcade 1CC".