The gaming community is no stranger to trends. In fact, we see things come and go all the time in the gaming world. So when I first heard about the idea of an arcade bar (a bar with arcade cabinets), I assumed it was just a fad. However, after visiting a few myself with some groups of friends I’ve realized just how important they might be in preserving the history of gaming from an era long forgotten.
You see it all started a long time ago with these magical places called arcades. Instead of going to your friends house to play games all night, you would gather around arcade cabinets and compete against each other for high scores and bragging rights. Gaming was considered a social activity where people played together in a public space. Fast forward to now and so much has changed, everything is online and people are playing games with others all around the world from the comfort of their living rooms. And while that truly is one of the best things that has ever happened for games, there has been this part of history almost completely extinguished from the modern era.
Arcades now are almost extinct and while there are places like Dave and Busters that still stand strong, their selection of games leans towards the modern era of gaming. There aren’t many places left where you can play an original Donkey Kong cabinet or even duke it out on an old school Street Fighter 2 machine. Arcade bars are changing that for good.
They are fusing the entertaining social atmosphere of a club with the old school nostalgia of an arcade. You can get drinks, sometimes there’s a live DJ on hand, and there are always plenty of arcade games. Whether it’s two people battling cryptic creatures on a classic House of the Dead machine or a crowd gathered around two fighters going head to head on Marvel vs Capcom 2, you can’t help having a feeling of warmth seeing these games relive their former glory as arcade classics. And that is why this is more important to gaming culture than one might think.
Preserving The Past
Once technology becomes outdated we rarely tend to go back and admire it for what it was. A new computer can do almost everything a ten year old computer can and better, so there is really no point to go back. However, games deserve to be the exception to that rule because they are literal works of art. From the marquee at the top of the cabinet all the way to the game programmed inside of it, there is history of the hobby we all hold so dearly today. And while games look more realistic and stunning than ever, just remember that someone created something as beautiful as Dragon’s Lair out of extremely limited technology by today’s standards.
There is something about the art of games like Street Fighter 2, Turtles in Time, and even Dig Dug that will always be timeless. And while we may see some of these games ported to our PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo home consoles, absolutely nothing compares to that true arcade experience. When you are holding a light gun in your hand and playing Time Crisis with your friend in a dim neon room with arcade noises surrounding you. It really just reminds you why you love gaming.
Arcade bars also cater to console classics as well. You are sure to find an N64 with 4 player Smash Bros. and Mario Kart. Sometimes even an Xbox with classic multiplayer Halo setup. And nothing brings back the fun of being a kid than 4 player games with all your friends. However, one of the best parts about an arcade bar is the mixture of people. Sure you are likely to meet lots of gamers, but seeing people who don’t consider gaming a hobby enjoy the classics is always a blast and a great way to meet new people and really branch out of your comfort zone.
One More Life
The preservation of these classic games is something that should be considered important to all gamers. While sure we can just download roms of these games and play them elsewhere, having a building where people can congregate and relive gaming history together is something that is extremely special. The same way that movie buffs make sure the classics stay alive, we the gaming community should always make sure that the newer generation can remember the classics as well.
So while usually these trends come and go, I truly believe that this is one we should support and make sure stays alive for future generations of gamers to be inspired by what started it all. So go online and see if there are any arcade bars in your area. You might be surprised, they are popping up everywhere. Just make sure you grab some friends and plenty of quarters because you never know when you’ll need another continue.