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May 9, 2014 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Revisit the glory days of coin-op goodness with the Flickr pool Growing Up In Arcades: 1979-1989. (A nice companion to Horace Rumpole's previous post from last year.)
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (31 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite


Time Out for nostalgia :)
posted by codswallop at 1:44 PM on May 9

The glory. The acne.
posted by ocschwar at 1:45 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]

Oh my god. This post is producing what I believe the young people refer to as "the feels."
posted by jbickers at 1:46 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]

This makes me incredibly happy. I have very faint memories of Time Out, but I remember it was awesome.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:46 PM on May 9

Holy shit, there's an Aladdin's Castle in there, complete with the train track light thing that they put out in front of the store in the mall. Did they all have that? Or is that a pic from my childhood mall?

I'm still looking for my other favorite home-town arcade: Just for Fun.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:47 PM on May 9

Wait, was it Just for Fun? Am I thinking Time Out?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:47 PM on May 9

Did they all have that? Or is that a pic from my childhood mall?

My beloved Aladdin's Castle (Louisville, KY) definitely had it.
posted by jbickers at 1:52 PM on May 9

So did mine (Galesburg, IL)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:05 PM on May 9

My childhood arcade was The Gold Mine, in the mall, in Olympia WA. Had fully papier mache'd walls an ceilings to look like dingy rock surfaces with wood beams and mine lighting, and smelled of cigarettes and prepubescent victory.
posted by stenseng at 2:13 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]

Could there be a better name for an arcade than Fun Terminal?
posted by davebush at 2:32 PM on May 9

Viewing these pictures makes me nostalgic for my youth, but not for the scenes they depict.

> My childhood arcade was The Gold Mine

I worked in a Gold Mine franchise in California (with exactly the same decor and smells) during the summer of 1983, after my first year of college. It sounded so promising when I applied, but it quickly became The. Worst. Summer. Job. Ever. The place I worked was a noisy, dimly lit, dirty shit hole of an arcade in an otherwise decent mall. The place suffered from OSHA-violation levels of noise, and IIRC I think smoking was permitted (or at least not adequately discouraged), so there was ash everywhere, too. And HOT -- all those CRTs and bodies. Also, the place was managed by a guy that was a straight-up bully, and his management playbook leaned heavily favoritism, distrust, sexism, dishonesty, and serving his workers a HUGE ration of bullshit on a daily basis to keep us "on our toes." Fun times.

The experience of working in an arcade completely soured any interest I had in video gaming, and made me resent both the games and their devotees. Not the casual players, but the arcade rats that were in there day in and day out, trying to bum quarters from customers and just generally being simultaneously needy and entitled. Needless to say, those are bad feelings to bring with you to work every day.

So interesting to think back on that summer now. I haven't thought about that job in years, but it's very easy to recall everything I hated about it. Um, yeah... Carry on. I'll just let myself out...
posted by mosk at 2:44 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Anyone who hung around arcades in the 80s will probably enjoy one of my favorite short stories:

Pac-Man by Rudy Rucker
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:53 PM on May 9

Me and a friend of mine beat Final Fight in the arcade. At the end you throw a guy in a wheelchair out of a window. But it's OK because right before that he's shooting humongous nails at you, like really fucking big nails. Pretty sure he got them custom made, because I can't think of an application for nails that big. You're morally in the right throwing a guy out of a window if he went and got giant nails custom made just to shoot you with, paraplegic or no.
posted by Hoopo at 2:54 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]

> Make sure to play this in the background.

Or this! (Yep, I owned it.)

I could have sworn there was a song based on Defender that included the words "I'm a Defender." Anyone?
posted by mudpuppie at 3:01 PM on May 9

We had two malls next to each other where I grew up. Dream Machine in the Hampshire Mall was where you went for your birthday party if you were awesome; a half an hour of free play was great, but the truly awesome kids had an hour-long party. The attendant would give us two bucks in tokens every time we ran up to the counter. The interior was dark red carpeting and chrome all around. Pinball in one corner up on a riser. Space Shuttle, Firepower, F-14 Tomcat, good tables like that. I remember it opening in the early 80s and quickly becoming crowded on weekend nights. It was where you'd go before or after a movie (both malls had at least four theaters and apart from a few art houses were the only game in town). I waited in line to play Jungle Hunt. Jungle Hunt of all games! My last memories of the place are in the mid-90s, when it was much quieter, featuring redemption ticket games, one pinball machine if you were lucky, and banks of networked Sega racing. My brothers and I got very good on the first Virtua Racing circuit. The lighting was brighter fluorescent now. I'm not sure what year it eventually closed, but it's gone now, along with most of the Hampshire Mall.

Just Fun in the Mountain Farms Mall next door was the second arcade, a parcel of space next to that mall's four theaters and across the way from the Papa Gino's. Just Fun was dark blue, quieter, featured older games such as the original Atari Night Racer and a bank of pinball in varying degrees of decay up at the front. Friday nights we'd go out to Papa Gino's and take a handful of quarters over to the arcade while waiting for the greasy pepperoni pizza. I played Rolling Thunder there a lot. I played Comet and Cyclone and for the first time ever Super Mario Bros there. On some nights, if you were lucky enough to hear about them, the operator would set all the machines to free play and charge $2.50 a head. I learned how to play Karate Champ quite well one of those nights, rotating in a constant line of challengers using the winners stay, losers walk rule. The entire mall is gone now, replaced by a long row of big box stores. We went mostly because as far as we were concerned there wasn't much else to do. Also because it was fun.
posted by Spatch at 3:26 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]

Nice architecture.
posted by freakazoid at 3:27 PM on May 9

I spent so many hours in arcades in the late 80s, early 90s. Our mall had two: Galaxy and a Time Out. Galaxy was way smaller and dingier, but had the best machines.

Also one of my idiot friends lost a ton of cash playing three-card monte in top of a broken Gauntlet machine at Time Out. So there's that.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:41 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Make sure to play this in the background.

Local "retrocode" Ground Kontrol here in Portland plays these piped outside towards the sidewalk. No one seems to notice that a majority of the sounds are for games that they don't even have. But then, sigh, it seems that no one goes to Ground Kontrol to play games anymore since they started serving alcohol. I'm sure they are crying in their thousands of newfound customers wallets over it, but they pretty effectively alienated people who actually went there for the joy of vintage arcade games.
posted by mediocre at 4:16 PM on May 9

This is the only photo I could find of the Westworld Arcade in L.A. (in Westwood Village) where I spent so many hours in Jr. High and HS. It's all kind of a blur, but I do recall an early acid trip that involved an unknown number of quarters and Tempest.

I'm glad to see that a lot of the photos here seem to reaffirm my experience of arcades being a fairly inclusive atmosphere for girls, at least in that they are not exclusively boyzones, and if you were a girl who liked video games it was a very different experience than the hate-filled shit that goes on now.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:31 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]

alienated people who actually went there for the joy of vintage arcade games.
How so?

Every time I've been there since the remodel, I have to wait my turn on most of the machines I want to play since there are so many people wanting to play games. Or you just dissapointed it's "popular"
posted by Dr. Twist at 4:42 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Wow. I truly, honestly, looked for my face in those pics because a number of those pictures look so much like my memory of the Crystal Palace arcade, the Valhalla of my youth.
posted by zardoz at 4:48 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]

My childhood arcade was Electric Avenue, at Green Acres Mall, in Valley Stream, New York. I LOVE arcades, and I wish they were still as popular as they were when I was younger.

I remember one time my father took my older half-brother and I to the mall, specifically to go to the arcade. Well, my brother and I got to arguing about something, so what does my dad do? He gives him $5 to go in the arcade, and makes me stand outside the arcade and watch. I loved my father a lot, but man, what a dick move to pull on a 10-year old.
posted by KillaSeal at 5:24 PM on May 9

I'd love to see some photos of Fun & Games in Framingham, MA, back in the early 80s. The air was thick with smoke, strobe lights, a spaceship moving across the ceiling, loud music, an entire wall devoted to Pac Man machines. It was not only my local arcade but really the only arcade I knew. Rumor had it that it was the biggest arcade in the world, though of course I'm sure everyone said that about their local arcade.

It started out as a few pinball machines in this sort of weird indoor mall-type place called The Market Place. Then it became it's own arcade in the 1970s, around the time when Pong was getting big. They had a mix of pinball machines and these pre-video electro-mechanical games and some games where you shot at a projection screen. Then, of course, video games took over. I was the perfect age to see it grow, and peak, and decline.

Every other week there'd be some news story about it, parents complaining that it was a haven for drug dealers and users. Some things will never change.

It's still there but now it's a watered-down Chuck E. Cheese, with bright lights and mostly games that give out tickets to exchange for cheap prizes. I've occasionally accompanied my son when he's gone there for birthday parties and it's just... sad. Nothing at all like what it once was.
posted by bondcliff at 6:16 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]

Oh, man, Fun & Games - my girlfriend and I spent a ton of time there, after our forays to the giant flying saucer that was the Jordan Marsh across the way. And don't forget the tunnelish entrance to the place

If you want to get the slightest taste of what it was like, the (increasingly sad) Wapole Mall still has an arcade, although it's nowhere near as big as Fun & Games and its main purpose is to try to get you to win tickets to exchange for pencils you'll never use and lots and lots of Tootsie Rolls. But they have skeeball, so that makes up for it (at least for us).
posted by adamg at 7:11 PM on May 9

Wood grain, phosphor burn-in, and half-broken joysticks. The memories of childhood, although by the time I came along the glory days were over, and most of my arcade memories are dingy machines sitting in cheap restaurants. Red checkered tablecloths, linoleum floors, cigarette vending machines, and ancient arcade cabinets.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:10 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Spatch wrote:

Dream Machine in the Hampshire Mall was where you went for your birthday party if you were awesome … Just Fun in the Mountain Farms Mall next door was the second arcade, a parcel of space next to that mall's four theaters …

I got started in these exact two arcades, along with cocktail games while the grown-ups waited for our dinners at places like the Aqua Vitae.

I had my birthday party at Dream Machine once when I was a little boy. Does that make me awesome? I don't know. But we took our own kids to The Quarters for one of their birthdays just last weekend, and I think that's a point in my favor.
posted by Songdog at 9:31 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

I spent a good part of my youth haunting bowling alleys, because bowling alleys always had a few pinball machines tucked away next to the snack bar. To finally visit an arcade devoted expressly to pinball (and video games) was an ascension into heaven.
posted by SPrintF at 11:12 PM on May 9

Man, those were fun. Good times.
posted by homunculus at 9:53 PM on May 10

But then, sigh, it seems that no one goes to Ground Kontrol to play games anymore since they started serving alcohol. I'm sure they are crying in their thousands of newfound customers wallets over it, but they pretty effectively alienated people who actually went there for the joy of vintage arcade games.

That's a bit surprising. We just got an amazing new venue that is both bar and classic arcade and games take center stage, and pretty much everyone drinking there is just collecting themselves a bit between games.
posted by Theta States at 10:08 AM on May 12

What, no pictures of Flynn's?
posted by Chrysostom at 11:09 PM on May 12

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