Arcade Games Dead, Says News
While reading about the slow, steady death of Toronto's video game arcades today on CityNews, I couldn't help thinking of the hours I spent in my own childhood pumping coins into those sleek machines, my eyes transfixed by glorious destruction in that flickering gloom. I never frequented arcades myself, but remember vividly going to birthday parties at some of the cleaner ones, and having to be literally dragged away from games like Terminator 2 and The Simpsons. The joys of all that candy-coloured, marvelously addictive fantasy still linger.
Yes, arcades are on the way out. Why go to Yonge Street to a dingy place that smells like BO and ramen noodles when you can stay home and play Halo in the privacy of your own room while your mom makes you sandwiches?
I wonder, though, if CityNews' Michael Talbot has been to Pacific Mall's Playscape recently, or any of the other, newer arcades that dot the outer suburbs. On a recent trip there I was amazed at the popularity of games like DanceDance Revolution, GuitarFreaks, and DrumMania. While the shooting things games and driving around games were mostly empty, there was a steady parade of Asian teenagers dropping tokens into these music and dance-type machines, and pulling out the most insane moves you've ever seen.
While home console games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band are beginning to draw even these diehards away from the arcades, it will be a while before anyone will be able to make a DDR machine as satisfying as the ones in the arcades. Also, the most popular games at Playscape were not electronic at all, surprisingly enough, but old-time favourites like foosball and air hockey. Go figure.
The arcades of Yonge are over, but they were never really that nice anyway. The future of arcades, if indeed there is one, is bigger games with more complicated interfaces like the ones at Pacific Mall. The future of arcades, too, is in the suburbs.
photo: Lost Tulsa