Archive for the 'Video Arcades' Category

Arcade Zen: Arnie’s Place, 1984

Arnie's Place 1984

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Photo and article are from Electronic Games (November, 1984). Arnold Kaye opened his “game room” in 1981, despite being refused a zoning permit by the puritanical city officials of Westport, Connecticut, and it closed in 1994, to the dismay of everyone who wasn’t a horse’s ass. One resident and father of four summed it up:

It really stinks that they forced him to close down… It’s one of the few places in town where kids can do something at night that doesn’t involve trouble. I always felt my kids were safe here.

But Kaye was tired of being harassed, and times were tough. “My threats got more and more bizarre as my frustrations grew,” he said. “All I wanted to do was provide a clean, wholesome environment for kids where they could play and have fun. I’ll always be proud of having done that.”

Kaye, a boisterous and inflexible personality, had chained himself to a Town Hall door in 1982 to protest “unfair treatment,” and in 1983 threatened to convert the arcade to a “porno movie theater” after the zoning commission didn’t approve an increase in games allowed inside the facility.

Kaye died in 2003. Thanks for fighting the good fight, Arnie.

Arcade Zen (1982)

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Los Angeles arcade, May 20, 1982. (Photo: Nick Ut/AP)

Only games I can make out are the two nearest the camera: Phoenix (1980) and Circus (1977).

I’m pretty sure that’s a Chuck E. Cheese’s hat next to the Yankees hat, as seen here.

(Photo via Forbes)

Sega’s Killer Shark Cameo in Jaws

Killer Shark Cab

There’s an excellent article by Keith Stuart at The Guardian about Spielberg’s early interest in video game and computer technology (his father was an electrical engineer) and how the shot of Killer Shark (1972) at the beginning of the film perfectly encapsulates the entire narrative: “It’s effectively Brody’s nightmare, and his objective, rolled into one flickering image on an ancient coin-op display for a few redolent seconds.” Stuart continues:

In a movie filled with legendary cinematic moments, this brief sequence is a minor one, but as with many other elements of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 picture, it was also prescient. The director, a keen games player and watcher of pop culture trends, foresaw an era in which Hollywood would be seduced by the popularity and the visual spectacle of the emerging video game arcade scene. He got the appeal of these new entertainment machines, but he also understood how computer graphics represented a new way to present narrative to audiences – even if, in Jaws, it was a few seconds of footage.

As Stuart notes, Killer Shark was actually Sega’s last mechanical game, not a video game, the shark animation a result of a projector inside the cabinet. You can also see Computer Space (1971), the very first commercial coin-op video game, in the background of the same shot.

In the Roger Corman-produced Piranha (1978), a brilliant Jaws and eco-horror parody written by John Sayles and directed by Joe Dante, there’s a shot (below) featuring Atari’s Shark Jaws (1975): sort of a parody within a parody within a parody.

(Images via Jaws Wikia, Pinterest, and The Electronic Playground)

Arcade Zen, 1983: Dragon’s Lair

Arcade 1983

Press photo from September 13, 1983. Caption reads:

Morro Bay High School Student William Krause at the controls of Dragon’s Lair game in the Morro Bay Arcade. Krause is the current champion, and has his name posted on the machine.

Dragon’s Lair always, always had a crowd (you can see a couple of quarters on the marquee in the photo). One, it was super hard and turns were short—I was lucky if I got past the first fire ropes. Two, the Don Bluth animation, surely influenced by Dungeons & Dragons, is a sight to behold. It still ranks as some of the finest ever done. The clunky game play, in retrospect, is actually a huge drag on the overall aesthetic. You can watch the whole thing—less than 13 minutes!—here. My favorite parts are the rapids and the giant marbles.

(Image via San Luis Obispo Tribune)

Arcade Zen: Malibu Castle Golf and Games, 1982

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The Redwood City Golf and Games was owned by Malibu Grand Prix and survived more than 35 years. Interesting that the “the mock-medieval enchantment” of the place is so closely associated with “the electronic gamer with a romantic soul.”

The article makes some historically interesting points about the “family fun center” trying to distance itself from the “less savory connotations of the word ‘arcade'”. The Redwood City location, says the writer, had an “atmosphere” and “ambiance” that “elevates the entire arcade experience.” And because the home consoles were becoming more popular, the arcade had to “become a greater and greater part of the attraction, rather than simply a place to be endured” while playing the games.

Craig Stieglitz, who grew up in the area and managed the center for 18 years, had this to say when it closed in 2013 due to exorbitant rent:

I grew up in the area, and I came here as a kid… I got a job here for the summer, and 18 years later, here I am. That’s the sort of place this is.

Another resident added:

It’s sad—it’s a piece of your childhood taken away from you… There’s nothing quite like it out here.

The property was bought by a developer less than a month later. Upscale office buildings are in the works. God bless America.

The article is from Electronic Games #8 (October, 1982).


Arcade Zen: Knott’s Berry Farm, Circa 1981

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How many games can you name?

(Photos via Orange County Archives/Flickr)

Arcade Zen (1982 – 1984): Frenzy, Omega Race, and Crossbow

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July 14, 1982. (Photo: Weyman Swagger/The Sun)

Original caption:

Game exhibit aims to ‘blip’ opposition. At the National Association of Counties convention, officials who may be regulating video games play at a manufacturers’ exhibit.

If this lady ever takes the stick out of her ass, she might start to enjoy herself. She’s playing Kangaroo.

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April 14, 1982. (Photo: Paul Hutchins/Evening Sun Staff)

Original caption:

Players try video games at the 7-Eleven store on Frankford Avenue, one location appealing city ban on them in certain areas.

Frenzy was the 1982 sequel to Berserk. That’s Make Trax (1981) on the far right.

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March 16, 1982. (Photo: Weyman Swagger/The Sun)

Original caption:

Video game players at Pollock Johnny’s on The Block.

Omega Race, Midway’s only vector game, came out in 1981. It was a rare sight in my parts, like Space Duel. I loved all the vector games. There was something a little magical about them.

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January 9, 1982. (Photo: The Sun)

Original caption:

Battling the bug-eyed monsters. Anatol Polillo, 23, aimed his sights on outer space yesterday without the help of a telescope. Instead, he pitted his reflexes against “Space Odyssey,” one of many popular video games in the Maryland Science Center’s second “Great Computer Invasion.”

The Maryland Science Center, founded in 1797, is still going strong.

Arcade 1984

The Machine Shop Arcade, August 6, 1984. (Photo: Pix L. Pearson/The Sun)

Crossbow (1983), like Venture before and Gauntlet after, was inspired by the success of D&D. I was really bad at it.

(Photos via the Tribune Photo Archive)

Discs of Tron Environmental Cabinet Tour

Just found this brilliant, super comprehensive tour by supertechnoboy of the Atomic Buffalo Arcade and had to share. Can you guess how many light bulbs this thing uses? Let’s see if you get chills when the music starts.

Promotional Video for Atari Adventure Entertainment Centers, 1983

I talked about Atari Adventure, or Atari Video Adventure, here and here. According to Atari, the centers would be “the premiere showcase for the newest innovations in computer learning and video excitement.” There were less than ten locations across the U.S., at least one of them a straight up arcade at the Disneyland Hotel. It was a costly, ambitious enterprise that lost steam after Atari’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial debacle (Christmas, 1982) that partially launched the video game crash of 1983.

The footage includes quite a bit of concept art I haven’t seen, and I love the line: “Atari is dedicated to exploring the human frontiers of high technology.” Nolan Bushnell once referred to his business as “leisure applications of technology,” another nice phrase that’s become an overriding preoccupation of the first world.

Parts of the video were taken from another Atari promo from 1981 called “Inside Atari: The Next Decade” (below). I like the intro about the importance of games reflecting the “politics, the wars, the economic systems of the societies that create them”—narrated over some artsy footage of two white dudes in suits playing Go, an ancient Chinese strategy game.

Playing with Yourself: The Official Video Game Handbook (1982)

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Author Ira Alterman also wrote Games You Can Play With Your Pussy: And Lots of Other Stuff Cat Owners Should Know (1985). In case you were interested.

(Images via Design by Decade/eBay)




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