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I Miss the Arcade

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arcade machines

arcade machines

Some of my favorite memories are of going to video game arcades as a child. But, sadly today they have almost disappeared. Sure their are Chuck E. Cheese's all over the place, but they're just not the same. One Arcade called Funland closed down a few years ago and it still has an empty building with a cool looking mini-golf and batting cages just sitting there with a big keep out sign. Another local arcade had an awesome go-kart track. But, this arcade was changed into a daycare center. At least it is nice seeing the kids race around the track on little big wheels and tricyles. But, when I was in my teens I raced go-karts around it and played Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat there. The arcade was a big part of my life and I am sad to see them go. At least a few times a month I would go to the arcade with a group of friends. We would play pinball, skeeball, air hockey, and most importantly video games. Sure I had an Atari, a Nintendo and Later a Playstation at home. But, going to the arcade was just so much fun. It was a place to play the newest games before they were released on the home systems. The graphics were much better and I could compete against other players. It was awesome when I could enter in my initials for a top score of a game. I would have a blast playing a fighting game on one quarter while others kept dumping in quarters to try and beat me. I wasn't even born when the first games came out. But, when I was old enough plenty of the first games where still around and I loved playing them. Some of my favorites were Donkey Kong Jr., Ms. Pac Man, Centipede, Gyrus, Rolling Thunder, Gauntlet, Chase HQ, the Mortal Kombat series, Ikari Warrioirs and numerous others.

Restored Arcade

While growing up in the 80's arcades were popping up in every town. There were a few nearby so I could visit them pretty often. I was pretty lucky in that my aunt and uncle had a vacation home up in Gunstock NH. My mother or one of my aunt's would take me there at least once every winter and summer. Nearby in Laconia is the worlds largest arcade, Funspot. I would spend hours their and never want to leave. They had all of the old classic games like Pong, Pac-Man and Space Invaders. They also had all of the newest games too. I am glad to know that the place has outlasted home video game systems unlike most other arcades. Funspot is actually considered the American Classic Arcade Museum. The place is 2 hours away from my home or else I would be their all of the time. Tons of video game geeks like me are willing to travel across the country to see it. I hope to bring my boys there soon. They would be completely Aww struck.The place has 3 huge floors dedicated to video game machines. A lot of the movie The King of Kong was shot at Funspot. 

History of the Arcade

Video game cabinets became popular in the mid 70's. They would consist of a monitor, a colorful cabinet with pictures of the game and a controller. Oh and of course a slot for quarters. In 1971 the first coin operated video game was made. It was called The Gallaxy Game and it was placed at Stanford University in the student union. When the game became more widely built it was renamed Computer Space. In 1972 Atari was formed by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. They created the video game Pong which quickly became a huge hit. They started out in bowling alleys and bars. As the games became more popular they started being found in gas stations, liquor stores, malls, restaurants and evan retail stores. In the early 80's arcade machines became more popular than ever. Video arcades started popping everywhere because the public just couldn't get enough. Parents were worried about kids skipping school just to play them so they didn't open until school got out.The best players would be followed and interviewed and even had groupies. In 1977 the first Check E. Cheese was opened. It was actually opened by the creator of Atari, Nolan Bushnell. His idea was to introduce younger kids to video games in a family friendly environment. Unlike bars and bowling alleys where most video games were at the time. Today Chuck E. Cheese is just as poplular as ever especially for birthday parties.

A Sad Farewell to the Arcade

Eventually home video game systems caught up with the graphics of arcade games. Although sadly in many cases the fun factor has suffered. Instead of going to the arcade as often my friends and I would hang out at each others houses and play video games. It was a lot cheaper once the initial game was purchased. We still headed out to play the newest Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games sometimes because they were a lot more fun against others. In the mid 90's a place called Strike One opened near my house. It was awesome. They offered indoor soccer and batting cages. But, the important thing for me was that they also had an awesome deal for older games. You could pay a flat $5 and play all of the games they had all day. I had a blast there. Strangely it was never very crowded. I guess most people were at home playing games.Soon many of the newer video games became 50 cents or even a dollar to play. A few years ago an awesome Pod Racing game came out when the new Star Wars came out. The game looked like a lot of fun. But, at $2.00 I wasn't going to go near it. Sure it moved and had killer graphics. But, it was just to steep of a price for me. I only saw a few people ever playing it. Today you can play Xbox live so you don't even need to leave your house to talk with and compete with other players. All of this sad talk is making me want to plan a trip to Fun Spot this summer. Wired just had a very relevant article. Small-Town Arcade Taxed out of Existence. Seems as though the taxes on places having old video games are outrageous. They have been around since people were standing in long lines to play the games. Today fewer people are playing the games and the cost of owning them in a business setting is more than they make. No wonder an important part of America's culture has been disappearing so quickly.  

The Best Video Game Movie

The King of Kong: Fistfull of Quarters Trailer

Thats Mr. Pac Man to you

Do you miss the arcade? Have your local arcades disappeared?

Joseph Frankina III from San Jose, CA on June 01, 2013:!!!! That sounds incredible!

Thanks for the article. I grew up in the 80s and have been a video game nerd forever. I too miss the the arcades. There are some go cart/mini golf/arcade places still around here, but it's not like it was.

Interestingly, the mall near my house has just opened up an arcade! I think they are becoming popular again because these new arcades have a lot of games that give tickets for prizes. Sure, I had that a Chuck E. Cheese when I was a kid, but those ticket games are everywhere now. I sure as hell don't get any tickets from my PS3!

Back to playing Mrs. Pacman on my iPad!

LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on April 22, 2013:

That's sad. I miss the arcades too. However if anyone finds a way to obtain a mall in a tax sale, bringing back the classic arcade is doable.

gamesnepal from Kathmandu, Nepal on May 11, 2012:

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I also have some of the fondest moments saving all my weeks money and going to arcades during the weekends. I used to play mighty final fight, street fighter and king of fighters the most in the arcades.

RolyRetro from Brentwood, Essex, UK on April 02, 2012:

I lived in the seaside town of Southend as a kid (not literally, just figuratively) based on the huge number of arcades there. I was brought up on Pac-Man, Defender, Galaga and Double-Dragon, and loved to see the new machines being added every week. Now the arcades are all slot machines and dancing games, so nothing left for me to play.

Hence I am building my own arcade machine, powered using MAME emulator, and it's nearly finished...

Hyperspace Geek on February 26, 2012:

Awesome article jim10! I pretty much have to give props to any article reminiscing about Classic Video Game Arcades! What I miss the most is the barrage of electronic sounds that hit you as you as you walked through the door! Some of my fondest memories are when I was a kid scrounging for quarters and hitting the local Arcades back in the early 80's.

The only thing I didn’t like was when some ass-clown placed their whole weeks allowance up on the Marquee which was common practice back in the day for having dibs on the next game. On the bright side it did get me acquainted with other less popular or forgotten games like Star Castle which I really enjoyed playing, especially with no one standing behind me!

Thanks again for the FUN read and links!

LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on March 17, 2011:

I think they could still thrive, but it would take some rethinking of the concept; other things bringing people in beside the games. Just like bookstores and music stores. They don't have to close, just flip the script; tweak what's already there for the new crop of kids.

Martin Allan from Sunny Scotland on March 02, 2011:

What a great hub - I too miss the days of arcades.

Seaside towns (in the UK) were always blessed with lots of arcades - the choice of games to play was almost infinite!

Karate Champ at 10p a go.... £1.50 would keep me going all day long.

Great hub.

DNemesis on January 07, 2011:

Excellent article. Sadly i couldnt enjoy the arcade as much because i was born in the mid 80s, but ive always had a great fascination for this atmosphere.

OldSkoolFool from California on September 30, 2010:

Yeah, I miss the old style arcades. Nowadays any arcades they have a are filled with drunk hipsters and "realistic simulation" games alongside gaming elitists. I want the games that brought us together as new friends that enabled everyone to share a new experience together.

Randy on September 03, 2010:

I miss them too being a teen from the 80s!

luckly for me, I was able to buy and build a few.....including 2 mame machines (1 in which I'm typing on!)

Joseph on May 03, 2010:

i feel you...Arcade was the bomb back then...good fave was Street fighter

jim10 (author) from ma on April 10, 2009:

Your welcome Pest, I am glad you liked Arcade games as much as me. Dig Dug is awesome. I have a plug and play game of it and my boys love playing it too. I just wish the thing could keep scores. It resets every time you turn it off.

Pest from A couch, Ionia, MI on April 10, 2009:

This was awesome! Thanks so much! I miss Defender and dig dug!

jim10 (author) from ma on April 10, 2009:

Thanks MeeK, I try my best to remind people of the fun they had as kids. I loved the arcade and wished their were still more around. Console games are fun but, just not nearly as exciting.

MeeK from Norman, OK on April 10, 2009:

Hey Jim10, thanks for all the great photos and memories! I had forgotten all about Zaxxon. That's the best! Great hub.

jim10 (author) from ma on April 01, 2009:

Thanks Generique, the Genesis had a ton of great games. Before that I had a Nintendo and loved that too. I traded in the Nintendo and got the Genesis. I then added the Sega CD and Sega 32X. The add ons were great. I got a lot of use out of the Sega CD. I then got the 32X add on and the graphics were great. But, Sega never really made too many games. I traded everything in to put towards the Playstation. Then I gave my younger cousins most of my games. The Sega channel sounds awesome. They were really ahead of the time. I wish they had offered it in my area. Maybe someday I will look into getting an older system. My boys would probably love it. But, I really lack the time to play it.

GeneriqueMedia from Earth on March 25, 2009:

Lost Vikings! Alright! I think I've played Landstalker, too. Actually, for about two-two 1/2 years my parents subscribed us to Sega Channel. It worked by putting a cartidge in the Genesis that was connected to the coax line. When your Sega booted you'd get a menu of different genres of games...they updated them fifty at a time and you could play them as long as you wanted for one low fee a month!

If you have some extra cash a Genesis can be found cheap via eBay:

jim10 (author) from ma on March 25, 2009:

k@ri it is great having fun with the kids playing arcade games.

Frieda it is a lot more exciting getting a high score in an arcade game with other people around. There used to be Pizza Huts everywhere too. I always liked there pizza and most of them are gone too, yet I am still teased with their commercials all of the time.

Generique, I miss my Genesis that was a great video game system Landstalker was Awesome, my friends and I would play it for hours and hours. Micro Machines was a blast playing against friends and I can't forget The Lost Vikings. I would be your best friend with arcade in your basement too.

GeneriqueMedia from Earth on March 25, 2009:

I agree on how the newer games just aren't that much fun. The video game system I play with the most regularity (besides my Dremcast) is the Sega Genesis. It had so many cool arcade ports!

Before my family moved out west when I was 15 we had a cool jukebox that was filled with 45s, a pinball machine, a Donky Kong Jr. cabinet, a 2d airplane fighter game, and a game that was a basic version of pool.

We were always so popular with the kids around us.. =)

The biggest arcade in the city! Right in our basement.

Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on March 05, 2009:

What a great hub, Jim. And brings back so many memories. There's something so different about being face to face with a pinball game than playstation or any of those other ones can offer. And the lights, and sounds, and energy. It was so awesome. I actually enjoyed the arcade most when I was in my 20s. My girlfriends and I would go to the mall to get a bite to eat in the food court and then spend our quarters at the arcade. My favorite was the Star Trek one. I'd be pissed if anyone was on it and I had to wait. Mortal combat was pretty cool too. And packman was a piece of cake. (Of course it better have been I'd been playing it for so many years -- I practically grew up playing the one at the local Pizza hut and Mini Mart.) Manitou still has an arcade, so when we take our summer trips to Colorado, we always stop in for a day with the kids, playing the games and chewing on some salt water taffy.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on March 04, 2009:

Jim, I loved going to arcades. They have a nice one in Cape May, NJ were I vacation sometimes. My kids love them as much as I do. Great Hub!

jim10 (author) from ma on February 04, 2009:

Will do thanks for visiting and for the link.

The Real Tomato on February 02, 2009:

You pick your topics well.

I was never a 'gamer' but my boys love them.

I put on my detective hat and found a nice website The true origin of arcade games seems to be illusive but I found out the first pinball machine was invented in1933, I am sure it evolved from there.

Keep those Hubs comin'.

jim10 (author) from ma on February 02, 2009:

Sounds like a great plan. I just gotta come up with a better reason to give my wife than to play video games. If anything she wants to move down south where it is warmer. It would be nice to hang out with you though.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on February 02, 2009:

That's a bloomin' shame! Clearly, you need to relocate you and your family to Lane County Oregon. It's a great place. Homest.

jim10 (author) from ma on February 02, 2009:

That is great news for gamers in your area. I used to have a mini-golf and arcade nearby but, it is now abandoned. I don't know of any places near me that sell them either. I have a Chuck E. Cheese nearby I take the kids to once in a while but, the games aren't great and there is absolutely no classic games. A few movie theaters near me have a few games but, nothing I'm too interested in playing.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on February 02, 2009:

I know that some are themed shops (like arcade games, mini-golf, etc), but the one I saw recently had just plain old arcade games and nothing else. I don't know if they sell them. But the home video game stores I typically shop don't have or sell arcade games.

jim10 (author) from ma on February 01, 2009:

Constant, thanks for the info. That is great news. I can't even imagine how many arcades they must have had in the late 80's. I am really surprised because everything around me in MA is leaving fast. Are they arcades with themes like Chuck E. Cheese's and Dave and Buster's? It is hard to believe they are simple old fashion arcades. I hope you get a chance to check one out and play Joust for me. Do the game shops sell arcade cabinets or are they the typical home video game sellers like GameStop?

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on February 01, 2009:

Hey Jim, I keep forgetting to tell you; Since reading this hub I started to notice arcades. Get this; there are 6 in my little city of Springfield, alone. And in Eugene - our sister-city - there are 20 more arcades, or game shops with arcade games in them.

cgull8m from North Carolina on January 23, 2009:

Me too, it was loads of fun back then.

rambo87 on January 21, 2009:

I miss arcade days too, hours of endless fun!

ESAHS on January 20, 2009:

"I miss the arcade days too!"

"The video game has just become virtual reality!"

"Two thumbs up!"

"Great hub!"


CEO E.S.A.H.S. Association

jim10 (author) from ma on January 19, 2009:

Goldentoad, I prefer Fun Spot any day. I just wish it wasn't 2 hours away. My kids love Chuck E. Cheese's too. It is tolerable since it is the closest thing even remotely resembling an arcade. It is nice that all games are one token and they take the multiple coupons I can print out. But, I'm definitely not a fan of their pizza. Somehow it is my wife's favorite pizza and I can't possibly figure out why.

William, I've never actually made it to a casino, but I assume my odds of winning are even less than that of me beating Donkey Kong. I'm glad you liked my hub.

Thanks Muthasamy, I tried my best to sum up what I could. Their seemed to be a lot to write about arcades considering they have been dying off.