Wednesday 20 February 2008

Long Live the Arcade!

Okay, so we all know that the video arcade as we know it is coming to the end of its life. Gone are the days when I could go down to my local Shipley’s or Quasar, Armed with the loose change left over from my week’s pocket money (or a generous cash injection from my ever benevolent parents) and spend some time engaging in one of my all-time favourite pastimes. In my hometown, the establishments that used to house row upon row of video gaming bliss are still there, but now they have simply replaced everything with gambling machines. I completely misunderstand the allure of any of these money-suckers.

To my knowledge, there is only one sort of place where you still find arcades that house semi-modern games of this ilk, and that is at the coast. I recently visited Weston Super-Mare of a weekend. This used to be a haven where in my Youth, I would travel down with my parents for the day, and upon arriving and securing copious amounts of junk food, left them to wander aimlessly while I frequented all of the local arcades. I could spend the whole day darting from one gaming parlor to the next, spending coinage with complete carefree abandon.

That was 15 years ago. Shit, I feel old.

Now, there is only one place left in Weston that still has that nostalgic feel. The pier. It’s amazing just how much they can cram onto those timbered floors, and there is a certain feel of unease when you stand playing a game, and you can see the sea pulsating through the cracks in the boards right beneath your feet…

I love these places. I also know of arcades in Blackpool, St. Ives, and the Isle of Wight. To name a few. The only problem I have now is, with a family in tow – I don’t generally get to spend anywhere near a fraction of the time I used to playing these last bastions of my vanishing youth. When my kids get a bit older, I may be able to get them to understand the virtues of these sacred places. Until then, I must sit back and watch, and hope that when the time comes, I can return to what is now nostalgic bliss. I hope that the humble video arcade still exists…

- Galford.

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