Get ready to revisit your childhood and break all — or some — of your old records, because the classic arcade is back in action.Pac-Man fever is back.
But not where you might expect. The game’s familiar “waka-waka” sounds are once again ringing from dimly lit arcades throughout the country.
For an industry left for dead years ago, classic arcades are now showing surprising signs of life, as independent video arcades open in cities and suburban towns from coast to coast, ranging from arcade bars to ’80s-style retro-cades.
Credited as the earliest pioneer of this growing trend is Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade in Portland, Ore., founded in 1999, whose four co-owners grew up in the heyday of arcades.
“We started as a strict retro arcade,” says Art Santana, office and promotions manager for Ground Kontrol, which has more than 60 arcade cabinets and more than 26 pinball machines. “But a lot of people were taking off Friday nights at 9 to go to a bar; serving beers helped to keep people here who wanted to hang out. We’re not like Dave & Busters and GameWorks that have a few classics or reissues. We preserve the experience of walking into a well-maintained ’80s- to ’90s-era arcade.”
With the resurgence of these arcades follows the common pairing of craft beer and arcade games, which share the limelight at Barcade. The establishment made its debut in 2004 in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., and has since expanded to Philadelphia; Jersey City, N.J.; and the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, with more on tap for the future. It’s also owned and operated by four friends who spent much of their childhoods in the ’80s playing video games.