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UPDATE: Arcades Are Still Dead
Posted on Monday, May 13 2013 @ 14:18:00 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
[Editor's Note: As Kevin Schaller is a staff writer for us, this of course won't be counted in the monthly Vox Pop prize. But this post is awesome, nonetheless. Maybe TOO awesome.]

I've been a bit perturbed lately, so I decided to do something that always makes me happy: I drove to one of my two childhood arcades the other day, and was seriously disappointed. Most arcades are outright dead nowadays, but even so, walking through this dirty, smelly, disintegrating place makes me think of what an ancient of the faithful might think of their crumbled, barely-standing place of worship today.

Maybe that's a bit overdramatic, but the sentiment is there.
 
My classic arcade, the one that always made me happy as a child, was the Scandia Mini-Golf and Arcade of Fairfield, CA.
 

(Picture from BudgetInnOfFairfield.com)

It has the aforementioned mini-golf course and arcade, batting cages, bumper boats, a rock-climbing wall, and even a small go-kart track. Clearly, everything that children would love in a location. I remember back a ways when the go-karts first opened up. I was there a week or two after and took them for a spin. Much fun was had that day.

Even after growing up a bit, I still enjoyed the place. I attended the nearby community college, only a few minute's drive from Scandia and the little rest-stop of small chain restaurants and gas stations. It was where I went if I had enough time between classes, or just didn't feel like driving the half-hour home after a long day. I rarely played mini-golf, and only one time do I remember playing around on the bumper boats (they were terrible to control), but I would always-always-ALWAYS fiddle in the arcade, especially when they got their DDR cabinets.

In the early days, that arcade was reminiscent of the arcade from The Karate Kid (the original 1984 kickass classic, not the recent one)… which might explain why I loved it so much; it's one of my favorite movies. But when I went recently, it was no longer the arcade I remembered.

It might sound petty, but one of the biggest reasons was because of this:


There are no more tokens. I can understand and even appreciate the rationale of not creating any more unique tokens for an establishment, but it was one of the touches that made any arcade awesome: a jingly-jangly pocket filled with play money. Seriously, on birthdays when my mom could give me ten dollars in tokens I felt like a friggin' millionaire. I'd stick my hands into my pockets and just fiddle with them like Scrooge McDuck swaming through his riches.

But when I got to the front after figuring out that I'd need a card, I gave the girl five bucks and was given this:
 

I didn't take a picture of it since she was right there, but I also saw their conversion chart. See, with no more tokens, they've developed their "credits" system: each credit is worth ten cents. And because they're credits instead of tokens or quarters, they can charge more… classics are now 30 cents, not 25. A round of DDR, my whole reason for going there in the first place? No longer four quarters, now $1.20.  They need the extra nickel per quarter they couldn't get before after cutting out the expensive, specialized tokens?

To top it off, the games I wanted to play were all broken in some way. The DDR cabs wouldn't even accept the card, the Robotron 2084/Joust cabinet had a broken second stick, Player One on the Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 machine didn't work at all, Metal Slug 6 was plugged into a generic cab so the button placement was awkward and unmanageable. The only game I got some enjoyment out of was from what looked like a MAME cabinet filled with classics... I got a few games of Ladybug in, but even then the generic stick was too stiff and the play onscreen was sticky in maneuvering around corners.

The games dotted around the place didn't even look good, with their control panels either flaking or completely ripped of any decor and the carpets sticking to my shoes when I stood in one place playing for more than a minute. One might think it's time to change the flooring situation when the "carpet" from 1983 hasn't seen so much as a vacuum for a decade. To say it's not a shadow of what it used to be is an understatement, almost an insult to the great times that used to be had there. It's just gross now. There's no other way to say it: it's simply a disgusting location with broken games and jacked-up price points.

One of the first features I ever had published was about the death of arcades, and it's a dream to try and discover the locations that might still exist that don't recreate the "good ol' days" of dark rooms lightened by glowing neon and electronic pops of the jukebox in the background. But as of today my own classic experience is, officially, dead to me. Nothing lasts forever, we all know that, but it's still sad to see the end.

Game over, man. Game over… unless you, dear reader, know of a place. I would LOVE to hear about arcades around the country (or the world even) that still kick in the best of ways. Please, I BEG you, if you know of one please let me know. I might have to plan a road trip.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you at the next continue. Insert Coin?

(Originally published on my site, http://kevinss.net. All images provided by me personally unless otherwise noted.)

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar. It has been submitted for our monthly Vox Pop competition. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick
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