Geekin’

I think I read this history of arcades some time ago, but it was nice to see it mentioned again in another publication recently.  I also enjoyed this new article profiling several different successful arcade ventures around the nation.

Gameworks is the last arcade I’ve been able to find and play in, and frankly Gameworks has evolved into a disappointment.  I’ve visited their locations in Long Beach, Las Vegas, and Tempe, and over time it has been disappointing.  Las Vegas and Tempe have deteriorated physically – they just feel like beat up places.  The games seem relatively static – not a lot of new games, and very limited numbers of the old classics.  I don’t know how the bar/arcade model has been working for them, but Gameworks doesn’t have the thrill it used to.

I can’t imagine the difficulty of locating motherboards and other parts for these classic cabinet games.  I’m very happy that there are people passionate enough to invest themselves in keeping a piece of Americana alive.  I can’t begin to estimate how many hours and how much money I spent in arcades over the course of my life.  I can remember playing Space Invaders for the first time while accompanying my mom shopping at a Sears.  I remember how desperate I was to play (and how quickly that precious quarter was gone!), and how excited I was to eventually be old enough to go to arcades on my own.  Within less than a square mile near my home at one point in the mid-80’s, I think there were four arcades – not counting the walls of video games that lined the four major cinema complexes in the area as well.

It’s a shame all of that has disappeared. While video game arcades generally had a bad reputation at the time, I don’t know how much of that was just fearful speculation or reality.  Granted, some of them could be pretty seedy.  But most of them were pretty decent places.  I can only remember a few isolated instances of problems.  I tell my kids stories about arcades and their eyes grow wide just imagining all the blinking, blipping games filling a place.

I wonder whether anyone has created an arcade not with cabinet-games but with early home video game systems – old Atari 2600s, Nintendos, and Segas.  I’ll bet there would be a market for that, and the investment might be less expensive on a per-system basis.  Hmmmm…

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2 Responses to “Geekin’”

  1. J.P. Says:

    Ever see the movie King of Kong? You’d like it.

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      Heard of it but not seen it. I’m curious about this summer’s Pixels, as well, though I presume it wasn’t all that great. I was a little disappointed with Wreck it Ralph – a lot of potential for nostalgic video-game stuff but not much delivered. Maybe it was an issue with licensing.

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