“In Back Alleys and Basements, Video Arcades Quietly Survive,” Wired’s Look at Southtown Arcade

By on February 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Earlier today, we were pointed towards an excellent article by Kat Bailey of Wired on the quiet resurgence of arcades and gaming centers in the United States. While the scene has seen its fair share of up and downs, these communities are growing once again thanks to fantastic establishments like Southtown Arcade in San Francisco. It’s places like this where the intrinsic social aspect of the fighting game community continues to thrive through past hardships, and Bailey does a fantastic job of weaving through our history while also offering an inspiring look at the past few years of growth. Here’s a small excerpt to get you started, but make it a point to check out the full thing on Wired.

In the late ’70s, during the heyday of Atari, one of its sales managers trumpeted the new family-friendly video arcade: “Many arcades used to be in rat-hole locations. Now they have turned into family amusement centers where you can take your wife and six-year-old daughter,” he said, as quoted in the book Replay.

Now, the big family arcades are closing and the gamers are moving back into the rat-holes. In San Francisco, New York, Austin and elsewhere, these gritty little storefronts hearken back to the days when arcade cabinets mostly lived in bars, pool halls and run-down amusement parks. They are a place for gamers to test their skills against like-minded enthusiasts, a digital Fight Club for those looking for something more than Skee-Ball and Dance Dance Revolution. It’s in these packed alleyways and basements that video arcades are staying alive.

“You can always drink a beer at home, but that’s not what you’re looking for, right? You’re looking for that communal interaction,” says arcade owner Myung Kim.

Source: Wired, image via Brian L. Frank