Arcades, Where Art Thou?


Let me ask you, do you still go to video game arcades? I’ll be the first to say that I haven’t been such a frequent visitor of any kind either, but  those places gave me the best memories. I would always ask my parents to take me there for my birthdays and even when it wasn’t. I still fondly remember the days when the weight of coins/tokens pulled my pants down and rolls of tickets were wrapped around my torso.

After a few years, tokens were replaced with cards that had credits stored. You can also have individual cards to save your progress in games like Initial D and Tekken. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of competing in arcades too.

Nowadays, people still go to arcades but for a different reason. Going to the arcade used to be an activity you planned and it would take up the entire day. I noticed that people go mostly out of nostalgic purposes. Sure, people play but they mostly just go around and admire it like a museum.

I was in a pizza restaurant during the holidays and it was packed with kids. It had its own arcade section and you would expect all the kids to be there to sate their impatience. No, it only had a handful of people and they were adults. Sometimes there were kids, but they always had a parent with them. Parents who were trying to pass down their childhood to a generation who have their own version of arcades on their mobile devices.


Arcades are closing down and I started to feel it when New York’s go to arcade shut down a few years ago. Yes, they re-opened but it’s like Chuck E. Cheese adopted it. As sad as it is, that’s the reality we live in now. We can’t blame kids for the world moving on to newer things. I’m sure you rolled your eyes too when your parents said their stuff was better.

Don’t fret though because some people have tried to extend the legacy of video game arcades. I remember Sara Clemens once posted about barcades. It’s exactly what it sounds. People can drink in a bar and video game bar setting. I was able to visit one while I was on my Asian escapade trip last month. Some had arcade cabinets, while others had current generation consoles.

When you think about it, it really reflects the generation that grew up with arcades. Kids would certainly be happy playing with their mobile devices. At least businesses know who their market really is.

In addition, I also heard about a thing called “All You Can Arcade.” It adopts a subscription based model wherein users pay $75/month to rent a variety of arcade cabinets. I personally wouldn’t pay for that much just to return to my youth. Perhaps, if you’re like the Gatsby of gamer parties? If I’m not mistaken, it’s only available in the west coast so I’m sorry if I got anyone’s hopes up.

wreck it ralph

I’m quite happy though that we get to see arcades celebrated in pop culture with Disney’s Wreck it Ralph. It was a great way to introduce the culture to kids and new audiences. In addition, kids got to see the characters we grew up. Ones that were there even before the consoles came out.

While we might not see arcades return to their former glory, the legacy still lives on in our culture. I don’t think it will ever be forgotten because it gave so many great memories to several generations of kids out there.

There won’t be much classic arcades soon, so why not take a trip to one in your town before it’s gone? Fill your pocket with coins and wrap yourself with tickets once more. Pass it on to someone younger before it fades away.

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  1. In Chicago they have Beercade and Emporium. Bars that are also real, legit arcades with great game/pinball/beer selections.

    Did I mention that all games are free (except some nights where quarters go to charity)

  2. I lived in the arcade. I had to plan around when I wasn’t going to be there. When we went to amusement parks and fairs, the arcades with their prospect of new games was the premiere attraction for me. What makes me sad is that whenever I still find an arcade, it’s all of the same games from when I was a teen and they often have messed-up joysticks and buttons that don’t work. They just seem to have stopped making new arcade cabinets or even maintaining the old ones.

  3. Yeah, I miss the whole arcade experience. Putting quarters up on the machine to claim your spot in line to challenge the champion on a fighting game was a good feeling. This was all before the home consoles were so powerful, back when new games came out in the arcade and we had to wait for a stripped-down version to hit the consoles months later. It was kind of how movies premiered in the theater and were released to video afterwards.

    I went to Dave & Busters recently, and almost all of the games were either some sort of ticket dispensing game, or a light-shooter. Not a fighting game or 4 person brawler in sight. I imagine that with online gaming, there really isn’t a demand for it anymore, and kids nowadays (jeez, did I really just say that?) don’t even feel like they’re missing out.

  4. The arcade at the mall near my home which I frequented since I was a little kid closed down last month. But the owner is opening a man cave store in its place where he will be selling arcade machines, neon signs, retro gaming posters and other things like that. So its kind of a cool change though I’ll miss the small arcade.

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