Arcades have been social centers for gamers — as paradoxical as that sounds with today’s connotation of the word “gamer”— since their inception.
The first multiplayer games featured two players shoulder to shoulder mashing buttons and vigorously swishing joysticks until one bested the other. Countless schoolyard grudges were settled at “Street Fighter” arcade cabinets.
In their prime, kids of all ages could wander into those musty, oddly carpeted chambers of colorful flashing lights and whirring excitement with a fistful of quarters and walk out with a pocket of garbage quality candy and a smile. Those without could always scrounge forgotten tokens from under and behind machines or, if diligent, from coin return slots. More materially oriented gamers might amass strips of tickets for a criminally overpriced plaything.
That was, of course, before the modern era. Nowadays, parents absentmindedly load a swipe card with twenty bucks and send the buggers running to blow it on games mechanically rigged to decrease odds of payout. There are still those among them that value the game more than something tangible to take home, but their numbers dwindle every day inversely with Fortnite battle pass purchases.
Quarantine buried many entertainment complexes still clinging on for dear life. The era of physically congregating to game it out is quickly slipping away. While it’s the natural course of any medium to evolve in such a way, those that want the ancestral gaming experience may still find it at a few holdouts.
While this is a proper arcade, it functions more like a legendary waiting room for moviegoers. Celebrity Theatres features some advanced forms of classic games like “Space Invaders” and “Pac-Man” that entirely stray from the cabinet structure, instead sporting a huge projector-style display.
In theory, the Quarters arcade is a wonderland of highly interactive and varied games. It includes a unique “The Walking Dead” shooting game available nowhere else in the city (to my knowledge). The caveat to this is their infrequent functionality.
BOOMBOX Frozen Pops
By no means is BOOMBOX an arcade, but it earns a spot among gaming joints nonetheless. The one on Highland Road offers unlimited play on two classic cabinets, winning nostalgia points with the available selection. Everything from “Galaga” to “Centipede” is infinitely playable (upon a courtesy purchase, of course).