CRank: 5Score: 25940

Memoirs of a Senior Gamer: Ye Olde Arcade

So here's how this is going down, your father thought it would be good if you two spent some time with me. Suppose he wants yous to learn some wisdom from an old timer, heh lord knows he never did! Now I don’t like either of you and I'm sure as hell you don’t like me. You give me any lip and you’re on denture duty. Repeat offenders clean the bed pan. Understand? You there, not you the chubby one, waddle on over here sonny. Let me see what game you're playing on that phone of yers. I-rem Ar-cade Hits heh *hack* *wheez*. This aint an arcade by any stretch of the imagination! Both of you sit down it's time to learn a little history lesson from old Pappy.

You know when I say arcade you kids are probably thinking about those places with a ball pit. Even worse are the places where there’s an animatronic rat hocking the pizza at ya! Bet you like that pizza dontcha butter ball ho-hah! You get your tickets and you exchange them for a plastic ring or a bouncy ball, oh what value! I bet you liked those places dontcha? Probably had a birthday party there, wore your little dumb hat and then everyone played the skee ball. Phooey! Let me tell you about the dimly lit hole in the ground that reeked of BO. A place where you put your coin on the marquee to call next, a spot to make some quick cash, and a place where you dared cross no one! Yes that’s right THE ARCADE, a place with real people. No friend codes, no invites, no iphoney apps, no monthly fees, just fun!

I still remember the day when I went to my first arcade; don’t roll your eyes or I’ll take my teeth out right now! The Playland over in Times Square, ohhhhh what a sight it was! Pure heaven if you were a kid and the seventh layer of hell if you were a parent. Mind you this was pre-Disney Land Times Square, a very different place than what it is now. No weirdo man in an Elmo suit, no roving hordes of tourists with their heads in the sky, just old New York. It stunk and boy was it dirty, but that's how we liked it! Because we were dirty too, it was the 90's after all.

My old pappy who was a cop; made it known that he didn’t want me stepping one foot in that place. He would scare me with stories about how his friend worked the joint undercover as a “chicken hawk,” to lure out child predators. How there was drug dealers, and how gangs used the place as a recruiting ground. But I tells ya no amount of fear mongering could steer me from Playland. Plain and simple they had the Street Fighter II! Nowadays you kids have a gazillion different Street Fighters with just as many characters. Street Fighter vs Tekken, Street Fighter vs My Ex Wife! Well we only had one and it had eight characters and that’s how we liked it!

So with a bit of coercion, or maybe it was just saying please a thousand times, my pop caved in and took me to the arcade. I don’t know if it was a case of the holy spirit, but it was a pure sensory overload the minute I stepped in. Every arcade cabinet on full blast, explosions all around you, and some kid even had a boombox blasting that would make Radio Raheem cream in his pants! What’s a boombox you ask? It's a male version of the iPod that’s what!

Now back to my story, ahem the Street Fighter cabinet stuck out like a sore thumb commanding the entire room! The line to play it was immense; it must have been at least 30 people or so. As a youngin your perception is all warped and skewed when it comes to the older folks. What looks like menacing big kids in leather jackets turns out to be a bunch of goofballs with overbites. I didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of them; I wanted the gamers to think I was cool! Ironically later on in life you'll find this isn’t hard to do. When it was finally my turn to play they had to bust out a milk crate for me to step on, or I couldn’t see the screen! Now that I had a booster seat, being cool went right out the window. I thought I could still salvage the moment and make my mark on the arcade. Boy was I wrong and picking that chubby Russian fella didn’t help me either! I was soundly defeated and so commenced my first experience at the arcade. Now you tell me, how do you go back to playing games at home after the bright lights of the arcade?

Now I tried playing the 2D fighters on the line, I really did and it aint the same. The atmosphere just isn’t there and it never will be. Nothing beats watching two pros go at it at the arcade, plain and simple. A straight up geek version of a boxing match and that’s how we liked it. The crowd giving the ohoos and the ahhs, the profanities, your very reputation on the line! Nowadays you don’t know who you're fighting, likely its some pimply faced teenybopper or foreigner yelling all sorts of expletives at ya. God bless the anonymity I suppose. Why you kids pay monthly to get yelled at by strangers I'll never know. I'll save your parents the cash and yell at you for free!

Look, there’s no build up on the line and there aint a crowd.
Half these bums are dishonest little pieces of shi- I mean poop who either quit half way through or start sending you PM's telling you how cheap you are! We didn’t have quitters back then and no one dared talked any smack either! In the off chance they did, well let’s just say it didn’t end pretty. Why I remember a money match between two kids, we're talking 50 smackers here. Turned out the loser didn’t want to pay up and made a break for the door! Well before you knew it he had a pack of kids chasing him down the street! Sure we never saw that kid again in fact, I heard they gave him a pretty good lickin'. But he learned a valuable lesson that day; don’t play if you can't pay!

It wasn’t just about the fighting games either! It was all about seeing what confabulated machines the arcade people could come up with. Life like racing cars where the seat turns and rumbles as you go! I'd imagine it’s the same thing as driving with that clueless mother of yours he he *hack* heh heh *cough* excuse me. Now where was I? Oh yes we had jet skiing, snowboarding, motorcycles, boxing, arm wrestling, beat em' ups, the gun games, pinball, and yes I'll admit the dancing games too.

Yeah the arcade was a little rough around the edges but that’s how we liked it. It built character; you had a role to play. If you talked garbage, then you best back it up. If you could build a solid rep then what you did in the arcade echoed in eternity! I’m talking of course about the coveted initials. Well you see back in my day games had something called a score. It involved numbers and effort two things I know your generation wants nothing to do with! If you scored high enough, then the game would ask you to input your initials. Forever they would be mocking the lesser gamers! Until at least, they unplugged the machine and it reset itself. But for that moment in time you were a king among men, a god amongst mortals! People wanted to be you and on the off chance a lady was present she would even tolerate your presence!

As you two know by now as a kid practically the whole world is shut off to ya. Ironically when you get to be my age they shut it off again, just you wait! Adults have their bars, coffee shops, pool halls, but the arcade belonged to us. You kids are ready to drop a king’s ransom on these confounded systems; well the arcade was far simpler. Always there waiting for you, all it asked was for your spare change! It brings a tear to my eve every time I think about it. I tell ya, kids these days they dont know, they missed out!

Stringerbell3536d ago

Hey everyone hope you like this piece. The attached video while rather long, is the only video footage I can find of the Playland arcade in Times Square. Skip ahead to the 1:14 mark to get a sense of what the place looked like!

thorstein3535d ago

My first arcade:

Buttons. You paid $1 for 7 tokens and $5 for 40. The most expensive game was Street Fighter II when it came out: 2 tokens.

This was back in the day when you could smoke so there were ashtrays floating around. The owner didn't care that you put your pizza plate or soda on the machine.

The place was open until 2 AM. There were pool tables and a jukebox blasting music. And everyone that went there just got along. No fights, no stupidity.

I found Speed Rumbler there and fell in love. Then there was Commando, Jackal, Galaga, and so many other great games. I miss that place.

There are still a few around here but they are so expensive, it doesn't make sense. $1 to play 1 game. I am more apt to spend $10 on games if they are a quarter or fifty cents each. Those were the days!

Oschino19073533d ago (Edited 3533d ago )

Will keep it short, but in the 90s I spent literally thousands in the arcade, was lucky enough to live next to a mall with the biggest arcade within a 30-45 min drive.

Good 10yrs of epic gaming and went from a place to experience to a hang out as I got older, haha was def a "mall rat". Still there but a shadow of itself and only a fraction of the size.

DragonKnight3535d ago

Man, I miss arcades. The only place any exist anymore here are in places like Chuck E Cheese and similar locales. Some of my favourite moments as a kid was going to the arcade to play games even though my mother always told me I wasn't allowed to because it was filled with shady people. Lol.

iceman063534d ago (Edited 3534d ago )

Once again, great read. It brought up some fond memories. It was Token Joes. About a 3 mile walk from my grandmothers house. I could take $5 and play for hours... mostly because I spent the first hour amazed by the new cabinets with the 20 min. wait times. Then, there was the pushing your way to the front to play... all the time knowing that some older kid was probably going to take your spot in line anyway. But, as you said, it was the place to be. Bad food, watered down sodas, dim lighting, and the eargasmic sounds of games, games, games. There was even a girl or two back then!
Oh, and props for the Radio Raheem line... brilliant. Plus, the man's iPod... almost choked!

DCfan3534d ago

Great read man, keep it up.
I lost it at "Street Fighter VS my Ex-wife"
I was born into the late 90's, but where i live, the arcades are still alive, i remember playing Crazy Taxi and some other games, thats like in 2003, a friend of mine told me he found heaven when he stumbled across a mall full of arcade machines, he sent me some pics, the machines aren't in a nice shape but they do the job pretty well i guess. Its just, as you said, kids today aren't interested in the arcades. Its all about the crappy IOS games,

mydyingparadiselost3533d ago (Edited 3533d ago )

My Grandfather used to take me to a pool hall/bar called Jungle Safari that had an arcade in it on Sunday mornings. Being in the South and morning on a Sunday usually meant I was one of VERY few if any kids there so I didn't get about of competitive (or co op) moments but I always had a lot of fun. I played so much Street Fighter II, Captain America, Strider, Dragons Lair, Golden Axe etc etc. The place shut down when I was still pretty young though, apparently there were a lot of fights, rape and a shooting or two so they shut down.

Stringerbell3533d ago

Yeah it seemed trouble and arcades went hand in hand. The bit about the undercover Chicken Hawk is true. My fathers friend in the police academy supposedly looked very young. So the Police dept sent him to the arcades with a stack of quarters in hope of flushing out child predators. Being paid to play vido games lol

When Playland closed down in the mid 90', the new spot was the Chinatown Fair. There was always fights (gang related mostly) even some stabbings. Then one day things just cooled down and everyone remembered why they were there in the first place.

mydyingparadiselost3532d ago

Your dads friend had the best worst assignment ever.
"OK Frank, take these quarters and play Altered Beast..."
"And then ask some "patrons" if they think those kids at the Street Fighter cabinet are sexy."

It seems to me that the violence & debauchery in the arcades calmed down quite a bit going into the mid 90's. Strangely enough in my area it seemed to happen around the time Mortal Kombat started getting popular. Maybe a little video game violence is all those ruffians needed to get their jollies, maybe it was Clinton, maybe well just never know...
Anyway great post, hopefully you've convinced some younginns to go out in search of this mythical "arcade" and experience a joy that seems to unfortunately be confined to the childhoods of all us old farts :(


Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Trophy & Achievement Guide

Our Phantom Liberty Trophy and Achievement guide is here to help you earn all 15 new Trophies/Achievements added to Cyberpunk 2077!

Read Full Story >>

CS2 Prime Status: What is it and is it Worth it?

Find out everything you need to know about Prime Status in CS2 - what it is, what it brings, and is it worth it.


5 Of the Most Unlikeable Video Game Protagonists

There are good video game protagonists, and there are bad video game protagonists.

Read Full Story >>