Over the years, more & more arcades have closed their doors. The most common contributing factors have been technology changes (improvements in home consoles & PCs), and social changes (kids/teens being encouraged to “have friends over” rather than “go out”).
But coin-op gaming throughout the world varies greatly.
In the UK, arcades include “soft-gambling” fruit machines with low limit prizes. America is famous for it’s “games ‘n’ restaurants” model. Here in Australia, arcades were mostly decimated in the 90’s by… of all things… a property boom where ANY city business that wasn’t churning out wads of cash… was immediately razed to build apartments for greedy investors to lose money on. (*not that I’m angry about that… ahem.)
But here and there, in little towns throughout the world, the good fight continued. When I lived on the South Coast of New South Wales (2 hrs drive from Sydney) there was a wonderful old-school arcade in a little town called Ulladulla. Funland was filled with 80’s cabs like Gauntlet, Operation Wolf & Snow Bros. Judging by their current gameslist, their lineup has been modernised now. I think that’s a pity, but don’t get me wrong, a big arcade full of operational games is still a rare & beautiful thing!
More recently in the United States, in a little town called Winchendon, Massachusetts… they’ve had an amazing arcade called Tokyo Game Action. As the name suggests, it’s an arcade in the Japanese style. So rather than redemption machines & thrashed Daytona cabs, you get rows of beautiful modern cabs (with top-end Sanwa controls). There’s music-based games galore, and even a Japanese cafe. And – if that’s not enough, a bowling alley too.
For 5 years, Tokyo Game Action ran as one of the very few non-profit arcades in the world. They held theme nights, national tournaments… all in their quest to show that “…video games can be used for the good of society.” They even partnered with local high schools to improve student fitness via dancing games.
But late last year, mother nature dealt a terrible blow.
The building was flooded. Had this been a “for-profit” business, as part of a larger chain, the costs may have been absorbed. But for a hobbyist-run arcade like TGA, the damage was too much.
So today, June 6 2009, is a rather sad day. Super Auctions is auctioning off EVERYTHING from Tokyo Game Action. Dozens of modern jamma cabs. Tonnes of dedicated machines, like Dance Dance Revolution Super Nova 2, Drummania 5th mix & Battle Gear 2.
All the fittings from the cafe, all the parts of the bowling alley… EVERYTHING is being auctioned, just hours from now. Here is the full listing.
To the TGA guys… Andy, Chie… like many of my readers, I never made it to your arcade. But I’m both proud (as a fellow gamer) to read of your achievements in 5 years, and gutted for how the story has ended.
I hope you get a decent result today.