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The Return of the Arcade


Filed Under on June 30th, 2014

My husband once told me his favorite birthday was when he turned eight. His mom rented out the arcade at the mall, called Aladdin’s Castle. She gave all his friends rolls of quarters and they had the whole place to themselves. Since the arcade was closed to the public, the gates were pulled down, but you could still see inside. All the other children watched longingly through the gates, envious of the other kids playing. A pretty amazing birthday party for a boy in the 1980’s.

This is one of my husband’s fondest childhood memories. But the child’s arcade paradise began to fade after the emergence of house hold gaming systems. The technology of these games improved and provided better and better level of realistic graphics for the gamer to experience from the comfort of their own couches. So long arcade malls, hello home gaming…until recently.

Now that the kids of the 80’s and early 90’s are all grown up…you can pull on their nostalgic heart strings. It’s happening when you combine bar plus arcade you get…Barcade.

Yes, these barcades are popping all across the country. I’ve been two different establishments in Chicago and I will agree, it’s quite fun. It’s something different to do and you can’t resist that wave of nostalgia. You’ll find yourself saying, “Oh I remember playing this as a kid” or “I never had enough quarters to beat that level.” Everyone is having a great time and you can’t help but feel like a kid again.

It’s truly brilliant. When my husband and I checked out Emporium Arcade in Chicago, there was a line to get in. At first I couldn’t believe it, but on second thought, it makes perfect sense. People are craving this kind of nightlife and when you combine the ability to play old school arcade games with drinking , it’s pretty awesome. People are opening their pocket books as well as their gaming hearts.

The next question that everyone asks is, “Is this a fad and will it fade?’ My answer is not anytime soon. Most of these games have what my husband would call,“good replay value.” Games like NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter are multiple player and offer fun competition in a bar setting. Plus, isn’t more fun to beat your buddy who’s literally standing next to you as you taunt them rather than talk through a headset?

Maybe don’t turn your headsets off, but there is much joy to relish from stand alone arcade games. While online gaming certainly provides opportunities for social interaction, Barcades offers a unique combination for gamers (or just those nostalgic customers, such as myself). Many friends regularly gather at bars to drink and have conversation, and it’s obvious that entertainment has always proved a winning element in that space – pool tables, dart boards, bags sets, and the list could go on. Who could resist a form of entertainment that takes one back to their youth, and that is unique, different?

For some people, this never gets old, and my husband is one of these people.

Arcade games not only bring back gaming memories but friendships, too. Was there a particular game you played with your best friend? Did you taunt them as you destroyed them in Off Road? It’s memories like this that make us human.

A little perspective from a wife who’s husband currently owns four arcade games, but let’s save that story for another time.

Mo Carter

About The Author

Mo Carter has been riding the social media roller coaster since 2005. As the social media specialist at Nerdwerx, she is responsible for managing social media campaigns and blogging her little heart out. The St. Louis native turned Quad Cities staple graduated from St. Ambrose in 2006 with degrees in Communication and Journalism. Mo is also a singer, acoustic guitarist, and ukulele player extraordinaire who performs around town. When Mo isn't busy making music or status updates, her time is consumed with live music concerts, hanging with her man, and kickin' with her small army of amazing friends for a night out on the town.


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