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Matt G
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Yes I know there's a Retro and Arcades folder but hardly anyone looks in it AFAIK. I've been mulling over starting this topic for a few days and the sad news of the final closure of Chinatown Fair in NYC has pushed me to do it:

http://uk.kotaku.com/5772996/the-last-moments-of-a-dying-arcade/gallery/

Really sad to see those pictures, even if they relocate I don't think it will be the same. I'm happy that I managed to go there once at least, despite the heat in there it was a great experience, heck even the wife thought it was in her top three things we did in New York.

I'm sure everyone has "If I won the lottery..." ideas and other than setting up a colour coordinated Trainer shop with an electronic size availability list on each shelf, opening an arcade is my main one. It's something I'd really like to see again, what's left in the UK is just terrible. The closest thing to an arcade around here is Namco Fun Scape in the MetroCentre, other than the penny pusher machines there's an awful lot of shooting and racing games, which I don't think I've played at all. Maybe I'm just a cheapskate but a £1 a go just doesn't inspire me to take a chance on something - the best thing there is an Outrun 2 machine but that's £2 a go! I'm sorry I'm probably going to refer back to my NYC Holiday a lot but the local Cinema where we stayed had an Outrun 2 machine and the new Terminator Salvation one at 25 cents each! For that price I happily pumped a few credits into Terminator Salvation despite never hearing of it before. When we got back Namco had got a Terminator machine but predictably it was a quid a go.

There's also a complete lack of anything competitive at the Namco arcade. Obviously I'm not expecting Street Fighter IV but not even the latest Tekken or something? I wonder if this is down to the conflict it could generate and given the place is usually full of juvenile delinquents, I could see bad stuff happening if some nerd perfected a local charver.

So my subtitle seems a little stupid since Arcades have been dead here for years, I guess here it's more of a question of what could be done to bring them back? But for the US with Arcade Infinity on the line and Chinatown Fair shut it seems like the question is what do they need to do now to survive? Despite the Old School appeal of a scruffy looking, darkened room, would a slick makeover bring more people in and make them seen as a more attractive proposition for an area (seems like the image was part of the CF's leasing problems)? I quite liked the idea of calling an arcade something like "The Lab", gives it a clean feel with a tie to fighting game terminology. And other than a "No Tracksuits, No Fighting" rule, how could you keep the atmosphere pleasant? My wife suggested a membership scheme but then that's another barrier to entry for someone with a casual interest. I imagine it's only established places that can even have the pull with Capcom etc. to import the latest SSFIV AE Machine, not to mention a healthy bank account balance.

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I find it hard to imagine that culture ever existing again, apart from in some kind of kitsch retro bar kind of way. They were always looked down upon anyway, I don't know anyones parents ever being happy about their kids visiting them. I used to lie about where I was going.

But the big thing about them back in the day was that the hardware was always more powerful than anything else available. Then the Playstation happened and Ridge Racer and it seemed to signal the death knell for arcades. And now with competitive online gaming being so prevalent there's little reason to hang out in dark seedy emporiums filled with nefarious looking characters, and machines with ciggy burns on them :(

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Yeah, the Chinatown Fair story is really sad. So many top competitive fighting game players got their start there, and it's obviously a local hang out for lots of people in the community as well. I'd have killed to have something like that near me as a kid. Or, y'know, right now. If I had a local CF equivalent then XBL Ranked matches would be over for me. I'm still sad about the death of arcades in this country, so I can't imagine what it's like for America and Japan who actually had a thriving competitive arcade scene for a good number of years.

For me it's more that the arcades in cinemas and service stations tend to be full of fruit machines when they used to have Streetfighter, the ones by the seaside are even shitter than they used to be, and the carcass of Sega World now just holds a generic arcade that seems to be the least important thing in the Trocadero in terms of maintenance and organisation. All of that is sad, but the point is that I never grew up with a thriving arcade scene, so their death in this country is almost less significant to me than their decline in the world's top two competitive fighting game hotbeds.

As for how they can operate now, I can only assume that a place like Casino in London works on the basis that it's in a small location, has a limited number of cabs and does enough to keep ticking over without getting too ambitious. Gambling machines (and the name "Casino") upstairs for off-the-street punters, with the nerds housed in the basement. The fighting game fans already know about the place, and splashing out on a Super SFIV: Arcade Edition cab is a calculated risk because they can expect the word to get out that they have it. I'm nowhere near the place and I still found out about their BlazBlue and SSFIV:AE cabs within days of their arrival. They seem to have struck a good balance between catering to hardcore fanatics for some steady custom, and then your more typical fruit machines and casual stuff upstairs to bring in one-off visits.

A retro-kitsch affair could work, but I think most places are happier sticking in a coffee table Pacman or Streetfighter 2 machine in their bar/club as a bit of a retro novelty than they would be with setting up an entire arcade. Streetfighter 2 seems like it'd take money wherever you put it in this country because it's recogniseable and everyone was the best out of their friends at it, but a dedicated trip to an arcade is harder to make people do.

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I guess it's all down to the advancing technology in home consoles. When I used to play the 'cades, everything seemed well advanced of anything my C16 / C64 / SNES could do and that was the big draw. Now though, the console version of an arcade game is as good as, if not better (due to more features) then, the arcade version. Plus XBL / PSN is a good replacement for playing against the person stood next to you.

I just don't think there's the market for arcades or arcade machines anymore.

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Basically, I loved the experience, especially during seaside trips, but that was then and this is now and I'm not sitting in a pretend car in public at my age to play OutRun 3, so fuck it and fuck this generation of kids (so to speak).

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My mum hated me going to the arcade. Kids smoking, drinking, and the threat of "he might get hooked on gambling" was always mentioned.

I've been in a couple recently @ seaside resorts, and it's definitely rose tinted memories. There's still the dodgy bastards hanging about outside, the tramp eating chips @ the burger bar, and the overblown arcade racers with heeeuuuuge cabinets. Now, with the same tech available in our homes, there's no way back for them.

I don't believe there's any way an arcade could survive and make money now.

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All of that is sad, but the point is that I never grew up with a thriving arcade scene, so their death in this country is almost less significant to me than their decline in the world's top two competitive fighting game hotbeds.

I can agree with that, the closest thing to me growing up was the local video shop, which had two generic cabs that rotated between Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and Samurai Showdown (probably my favourite back in the day). The CF situation seems pretty raw to me since it was only last year I went there, the wave of nostalgia was immense and it gave me a nice feeling that something like it could still exist when I thought it had gone a long time ago. Sadly it appears that wasn't really the case :(

A retro-kitsch affair could work, but I think most places are happier sticking in a coffee table Pacman or Streetfighter 2 machine in their bar/club as a bit of a retro novelty than they would be with setting up an entire arcade. Streetfighter 2 seems like it'd take money wherever you put it in this country because it's recogniseable and everyone was the best out of their friends at it, but a dedicated trip to an arcade is harder to make people do.

I've not seen SF2 anywhere for a long time if I'm honest, like you say I would think it's easy money as everyone will have played it at some point (even if some people will be hankering for a SNES Pad to play with). My best random discovery of recent years was a pub in Aberystwyth, which had a Metal Slug (couldn't tell you which) at a sensible 20p a go or something - lack of change and the fact that it was a quiet drink before my sisters wedding are the only things that meant I didn't play for long.

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I'd pay to go and play MW2 or GT5 for half an hour during my lunch. throw in some good food (ie not shitty burger, and lowest meat possible under EU law bangers and chips) and i could be tempted out.

If you could sit down and either LAN with a few pople around you our join online with a default "name-of-the-bar_2" Gametag or PSN name. I could see a future for that. Like an internet cafe but with consoles and time bundles. 10 min - half and hour - an hour. etc.

oh and comfy chairs. i like to be comfy these days.

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Bowling alleys seem to be where the last vestiges of the arcades can be found in this country, unless it's changed since the last time I was in one.

I was stuck in Stansted airport overnight once, and was overjoyed to find they had a Time Crisis 3 hidden away, but that was about it. Even airports used to have a few fairly up-to-date machines.

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I don't believe there's any way an arcade could survive and make money now.

Some of them do though. Not many sure, but some are hanging on.

Catering to people who will come back seems to be a lot more important than making sure you have the flashiest cabinet to try and outdo home consoles. Afterburner Climax absolutely blew me away when I played it in the full set up, but I'll still only put a couple of credits in it when I'll put £15 in Super SFIV: Arcade Edition and other fighting gamers will do the same.

You need gambling and you need to make sure that your games are good for repeated play, which is an odd thing to say about an arcade. And maybe one o'them dancing games because people like those.

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My mum hated me going to the arcade. Kids smoking, drinking, and the threat of "he might get hooked on gambling" was always mentioned.

The demise of the gaming arcade has actually made me hate fruit machines. On some subconscious level I hold them responsible for driving games out. I have very fond memories of cycling 25 miles to the seafront with some friends, ten guilders in my pocket, carefully deliberating what machine to spend it on (besides the sit in OutRun and original Star Wars of course) and watching the regulars play.

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I'd pay to go and play MW2 or GT5 for half an hour during my lunch. throw in some good food (ie not shitty burger, and lowest meat possible under EU law bangers and chips) and i could be tempted out.

If you could sit down and either LAN with a few pople around you our join online with a default "name-of-the-bar_2" Gametag or PSN name. I could see a future for that. Like an internet cafe but with consoles and time bundles. 10 min - half and hour - an hour. etc.

oh and comfy chairs. i like to be comfy these days.

Gamerbase and places like Unit 16 in Bradford (http://www.unit-16.co.uk/Unit-16/About_Us.html) do something like that, and there are others as well. Something I'd like to see more of for sure.

Manchester has Gamerbase in HMV and a half decent arcade to boot. That's about as good as it gets outside of London.

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Yeah there's a similar setup in the big HMV that used to be a Virgin in Glasgow. It seems pretty popular, though I've never used it and almost certainly never will. Most of the people in the games section seem to be there for that rather than buying games, interestingly.

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So my subtitle seems a little stupid since Arcades have been dead here for years, I guess here it's more of a question of what could be done to bring them back?

It's sad really. Arcade gaming was a brief but memorable period in history, but I think it's one that could only happen then and could never happen again. A combination of technology that wasn't available in the home - and thus being attractive to gamers - combined with game complexity that was sufficiently low to allow low price/quick experience gaming. As games got more complex, the length of time a credit bought you increased, and so did the price. Moving from 10p to a quid formed a psychological barrier that gamers couldn't get over - especially when the home market produced experiences that were equivalent, and in some ways better. On top of this, bigger cabs needed more maintenance and bit into the bottom line of the arcade halls.

It's strange to think that kids today won't have that "arcade feeling" that kids from the 80s had. In fact, kids haven't had this for ages.

For what it's worth, I got heavily into arcade gaming again in the last few years and discovered the "build your own arcade controls" forum, which is populated by people who remember why arcades were ace, and spend their days building and restoring cabs. It's a really friendly place and great if you fancy persuading the wife to let you have a corner of your dining room for a restored Ms Pacman.

I fired up my router and managed to build an upright and a minicab, and now spend my Sunday afternoons trying (and failing) to one credit Rastan :)

If you have the space, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Even in Japan the arcade scene is pretty much dead, it's mostly those one big button games for primary school kids or cigarette decorated mahjong or horse racing machines. Sometimes I do miss it, but then I remember standing around in the Ice Bowl trying to get on Street Fighter II, people stealing credits, having to be roasting playing SFII or freezing playing WWF, and I think it's probably not worth it.

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Even in Japan the arcade scene is pretty much dead, it's mostly those one big button games for primary school kids or cigarette decorated mahjong or horse racing machines.

Interesting you say that as there is a new film documentary talking about the arcade scene in Japan and they seem to be saying the opposite. Not sure how good the doc will turn out as the contributors in the trailer don't look particularly great.

100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience is an hour long documentary focusing on the thriving, exciting, vibrant world of the arcades in Japan.

IMAGINE a world where video games reign supreme. Five stories of arcade cabinets, new and old, dominate the streets of downtown Tokyo. Welcome to Japan. A place where the arcades of the 80′s and 90′s not only still exist, but thrive and have evolved into elaborate environments of pleasure for any gamer.

Our 8-bit childhood has come a long way. A complete sensory overload is brought on by the multitudes of arcade games, they call out to you as you wander the vast expanses of these game havens. What was once a table top amusement has become an escape from your mundane existence. If you have a couple hundred Yen in your pocket, be prepared for The Ultimate Arcade Experience™

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Interesting you say that as there is a new film documentary talking about the arcade scene in Japan and they seem to be saying the opposite. Not sure how good the doc will turn out as the contributors in the trailer don't look particularly great.

100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience is an hour long documentary focusing on the thriving, exciting, vibrant world of the arcades in Japan.

IMAGINE a world where video games reign supreme. Five stories of arcade cabinets, new and old, dominate the streets of downtown Tokyo. Welcome to Japan. A place where the arcades of the 80′s and 90′s not only still exist, but thrive and have evolved into elaborate environments of pleasure for any gamer.

Our 8-bit childhood has come a long way. A complete sensory overload is brought on by the multitudes of arcade games, they call out to you as you wander the vast expanses of these game havens. What was once a table top amusement has become an escape from your mundane existence. If you have a couple hundred Yen in your pocket, be prepared for The Ultimate Arcade Experience™

I don't think it takes much more than a casual walk around a suburban department store to show the opposite. People also don't drive down the street in Ferraris either in Japan. Outside of Tokyo, it's stone cold dead. There's a lot of daft information in that video, though it makes for a cooler trailer.

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I'm always disheartened by the Arcade's fall from popularity, as a kid growing up the late 80's, the arcade was seen as a impossible leap in technology. Seeing Virtua Racing running in the Arcade was a magical experience, and one which will never be encountered again. Part of it is down to how narrow videogame information was circulated as it felt like any game could be appearing in the arcade. The other part was the huge divide between consoles and PC's of the time, a kid playing Master System Sonic the Hedgehog would be fairly stunned by seeing Ridge Racer. I can't imagine if this was still the case, with a kid playing on a Xbox 360 or PS3 walking down to the arcade and seeing something that is incomparable to what they're playing.

I never had the luxury of having a Arcade close by, with the nearest being a hour's drive away in Portsmouth, but that made going even more special. From seeing Virtua Racing when I was on a family holiday in Swanage, watching Games Master have a Tekken 2 Tournament, playing 4 player link up Daytona USA, playing endless rounds of Sega Rally with my younger brother, learning how to operate the Time Crisis duck pedal, discovering the holy grail with F355 Challenge and coming across the last cabinet that made me want to go to the Arcade, Outrun 2SP. I have some very fond memories of hanging out in arcades and playing some fantastic games.

My favourite period of games was the PSone - Dreamcast era. Not only was it the jump into 3D, but it was where I was still excited by the idea of Coin-Op Conversions. The PS1 thrived on handling Namco's best Arcade games and it was astonishing to think that these lumbering beats were being put onto a CD-ROM for only £40 a pop. The Dreamcast signalled the end of the Arcades dominance as it was handling Arcade perfect versions of Naomi boards and thereafter, console and Arcade games lived side by side.

The Arcade has long since been outgunned, but I do still miss having a SEGA / AM2 / Namco cabinet that was so out of reach of the current generation, that you thought it was impossible to convert to a £200 console. The original allure and the reason for going has been captured on home consoles, so I would be amazed if Arcades could be resuscitated at this point in time.

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Whilst I don't doubt that the power of today's PCs and consoles is keeping kids away from the arcades - one of the main draws for me was the chance to play games that were far more impressive than what I had at home - I also think that arcades provide a social environment that's kind of unique to our pastime, whether we're trying to top a leaderboard or challenging a stranger at Street Fighter. Sure, those are both things which we can do at home, online, but the arcades have a nice sense of friendly rivalry that's completely different from sitting at home in your pants being called a faggot by Eli735Nip3r1996. I haven't been to an amusement arcade for ages, and even the last few times I've been pretty nonplussed at the selection of games - a mechanical crane, a bunch of slots, a House of the Dead 2, a miscellaneous racer and a couple of dancemat games...

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Oh absolutely. If I had a regular tournament scene and a local arcade I'd take it over Xbox live in a second. Similarly, I'll take a rllmuk SFIV lobby over ranked matches in a second as well. You need that community atmosphere and some good old fashioned smack talk going on or it just isn't fun. Going on a little winning streak at an arcade the other week was infinitely more satisfying than any win against faceless ranked opponents. Waiting for some dude to join your game lobby doesn't compare to that little rush when the next guy puts his money on the machine to challenge you next.

Plus of course, there's the fact that you're playing to stay on and get the most out of your credit. You lose in ranked, you hit search again. You lose at the arcade and you're dethroned, often in front of an audience, and you have to pay actual money for another chance. There's a real joy in watching your peers digging out more change just to try and beat you at Streetfighter. It's pretty obvious that it makes you better at the game as well, again because wins and losses are more meaningful.

As intense as it can be and as much fun as I've had playing in tournaments and as much as rllmuk SSFIV lobbies are one of my favouritest of all things, the arcade buzz is still the king for me.

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It's very sad, but inevitable for all the reasons listed above. My whole gaming life was the arcades. I never had a console apart from a lend of a c64 for 6 months once, but I spent all my time and pocket money in the arcades. Still today, I only really like games where it's about reactions and skill. I have almost zero interest in any strategy or role playing games. I'd love a big mame cab or something, but even then it can't replace the notion of dropping 5-10% of your weekly income for one single go on one game. Good times. I think I was lucky to be young then.

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One of my favorite memories was discovering this baby in a service station at about 3 in the morning after a pretty tasty party

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There was around eight of us and after putting a few quid into the machine and having some brilliant races we were about to leave, strapped after an expensive night when I discovered that flicking it off then on at the wall put it into freeplay.

We played that baby until the sun came up and it blew minds, the force feedback (pretty sure it was a better cab than the one above with moving seats), the state of the art graphics, the sound, the stimulants and the freeness just added up to an amazing and unexpected night.

I'd had a VCS some years before, played a game or two of defender et al at the seaside and played a few games on my sisters amiga but this machine put me in another place and pretty much made me love video games until this day.

Coming home and firing up my sisters amiga with a demo of Geoff Crammond's grand prix was pretty dissapointing (even if it was a good game) and I couldn't wait for the day I could play something that matched that experience at home.

Consoles have matched/surpassed them for years now but it holds a powerful place in my mind that machine.

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I don't know if there's any mileage to comparing Arcades to Cinemas, which for a while I think people thought was on the way out. The Cinema does still offer something you don't get at home though in terms of the scale of the screen and (sadly) 3D etc. Like JLM was saying, the main unique draw remaining for arcades is the sense of community atmosphere and a more meaningful sense of loss (which might not be a benefit to you depending on your point of view). I'm quite intrigued by the semi-internet cafe idea, which is partially what I was thinking of in terms of cleaning up the look of arcades. And arcades already make their own setups for popular non-arcade games (CF had console SSFIV when I was there and I've seen AI have a MVC3 one) so it's not that outlandish an idea.

I'd also like to go to that Barcade place btw Pockets, it looks pretty cool. Though not sure how well serious competition with strangers and alcohol would mix...

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The problem really isn't that home consoles offer better visuals than arcades. It's the price and value for money. Firstly a pound a go is a rip off for 3 lives. Secondly them 3 lives last about 5 seconds. If i can buy a cinema ticket for £3.50 in a city centre and get at least an hour and a half of movie fun then a £1 for 5 minutes at most is a rip off. I'd be more likely to put a few quid in if every go cost 30-50p, even if the difficulty was the same as it is now.

But it seems arcade operators think turnover of customers = more money. It doesn't if you are playing for any amount of time a crowd starts to build and people then want to play. But if the machine is empty or people die quickly no one else wants to waste their money. Arcade games are getting even more expensive. Guitar Hero charges £1 a go but if you want to play the good songs it requires an extra £1. Even the grabber machines are becoming £50p a go and it seems the more expensive the machine the less chance you actually have of it grabbing properly and winning.

Arcades could easily be big. Make them brightly lit, fun happy places, probably attached to a food outlet or another service like bowling and make them cheaper and easier. If i can get to the end of level 1 on HOTD2 and then die im more likely to put more money in to play on. If i die after the first scene im not going to bother wasting more of my money.

Ever arcade i've been in to has always been busy so ive never understood why they never make their money. I guess fruit machines just make more money for less space and maintenance.

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"Proper" arcades would be nice, but these days it's ridiculously easy and cheap to get a machine at home. Ok, so you won't get the atmosphere or a 2 player Outrun 2 SP setup with less than £1500, but you can grab a generic cabinet and a fat stack of games (or shove mame in there) for £300 total. I've seen the game spending thread, it's not beyond the means of a large proportion of the forum if you have the space if you look at it beyond a quick thrill.

Unfortunately Consoles have killed the proper arcades dead outside of a handful of places in key locations (i.e. Namco or Casino). Theres a few locally but only one has stuff that isn't a driving, gun or other "gimmick", and the machines are not in good nick - Bubble Bobble on a Sega Megalo would be great if the projection screen wasn't half dead, instead the joy of actually finding a machine with it running in this day and age loses it's edge when the image is a mess

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I never had the luxury of having a Arcade close by, with the nearest being a hour's drive away in Portsmouth, but that made going even more special. From seeing Virtua Racing when I was on a family holiday in Swanage

The arcade on the front next to the Rec? that was the first arcade I ever went in. Some of my familly used to live in Swanage, so we'd go there a couple of times a year. So many memories of that place - playing all the racing games with my dad, first go on Spyhunter (which is still one of my favourite games of all time), playing Rampage and being amazed at being able to destroy buildings, playing 4-player side-sclling beat 'em ups like Vendeta and Aliens Vs Predator for hours with my cousins, seeing light gun games go from Op Wolf to Lethal Enforcers, the amazing beat 'em ups like SFII and Fighter's History, seeing Virtua Fighter for the first time...

Just before my familly moved away from there, I went down with Mrs Scouser_In_Exile. When we walked around the arcade, she said she found it quite strange how misty-eyed I got about that place...

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The arcade on the front next to the Rec? that was the first arcade I ever went in. Some of my familly used to live in Swanage, so we'd go there a couple of times a year. So many memories of that place - playing all the racing games with my dad, first go on Spyhunter (which is still one of my favourite games of all time), playing Rampage and being amazed at being able to destroy buildings, playing 4-player side-sclling beat 'em ups like Vendeta and Aliens Vs Predator for hours with my cousins, seeing light gun games go from Op Wolf to Lethal Enforcers, the amazing beat 'em ups like SFII and Fighter's History, seeing Virtua Fighter for the first time...

Just before my familly moved away from there, I went down with Mrs Scouser_In_Exile. When we walked around the arcade, she said she found it quite strange how misty-eyed I got about that place...

That’s the one, right next door to an ice cream parlour and looking out over Swanage bay.

One of the reasons I have such fond memories of the Arcades, are that they are tied directly into memories of family holidays and trips with friends to the Sea front. I really do feel sorry for kids today, as there’s no direct comparison with an Arcade. All gaming is conducted at home and any interaction is either done split screen or online.

Seeing these machine produce something that was so out of this world, while chatting to the crowd of other other likeminded kids who loved games or were just drawn by the bright lights, was a great experience and one that is greatly missed in modern gaming.

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Whilst I don't doubt that the power of today's PCs and consoles is keeping kids away from the arcades - one of the main draws for me was the chance to play games that were far more impressive than what I had at home - I also think that arcades provide a social environment that's kind of unique to our pastime, whether we're trying to top a leaderboard or challenging a stranger at Street Fighter. Sure, those are both things which we can do at home, online, but the arcades have a nice sense of friendly rivalry that's completely different from sitting at home in your pants being called a faggot by Eli735Nip3r1996. I haven't been to an amusement arcade for ages, and even the last few times I've been pretty nonplussed at the selection of games - a mechanical crane, a bunch of slots, a House of the Dead 2, a miscellaneous racer and a couple of dancemat games...

You just described every arcade I've seen in the US in the past 8 years or so...

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