Moments after being handed my first set of car keys, I began a ritual that would be
repeated multiple times each week for nearly a decade now. I’d grab my cup full of tokens,
the latest Super Eurobeat release (it being the style at the time) and proceed to tear
through the windy hillside road that exits Livermore, kick the Nissan over four lanes and
blaze down the freeway. Thirty-five miles and forty minutes later, I’d find myself at
Sunnyvale Golfland: the arcade mecca of Northern California.
I’d like to think that like most good anti-social gamers, I spent the majority of my childhood
in an arcade, but talking to a lot of folks I know within the industry, that doesn’t seem to be
the case. When I speak of arcades now, in the present tense, I get confused stares and
“There are still arcades?”
The arcade industry, if we can still call it one, is hurting. No doubt about it. All the
advantages that kept us coming to them up until the 90’s are gone, their technological edge
having withered. For the young gamers of today, there seems to be little, if any point to
venture into one of these dungeons of videogames and that’s a shame. Ten years from now
there may not even be any arcades to cry for.
While putting together my current feature,
No Country for Old Arcades,
two arcades were shut down across two different states. If not now, we’ll never have a
chance to tell their stories.
From now until whenever I’m actually stopped, I’ll be traveling around the country in search
for the last great arcades in America. Interviewing the operators, talking with the players
and attempting to give a voice to a piece of our culture that is slowly and very surely,
If you have some spots in mind, I’m all ears. I have some truly incredible folks
already lending me a hand such as Eddie from
Bemanistyle and Seth from
Capcom, but any input is good input. Already this
feature is starting to gain a life of its own and snowballing into something truly special.