Monday, November 29, 2010

The Twilight of the Arcade... a story from a veteran.


I am old, no I didnt know George Washington personally but I knew of him, as a aged person, I remember a time when people had to travel outside their homes to play great video games. Yes, you could go to a 7/11 and wait your turn at on of the 2 or 3 games they had there but if you were a leet gamer back in the day... you went to the Arcade, paid your quarters and got your name on the high score list for bragging rights, and I had the privilege to work in one.


Working in a Arcade on the surface doesnt seem like a bad gig and truth be told it wasnt, most of your work gets done before opening or after closing while you spend the remainder of your time unjamming coin slots, handing out quarters and explaining to people why they can’t throw a pinball machine a cross the room. However it also had a down side, my Arcade was in a college town and the general unreliability of the college kids we hired soon became apparent. I once spent two week working from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM because our Employees decided to leave for the summer without notice. Surprisingly the most reliable employee we ever had was a skate board punk.


One of the things we had to do, when closing, was to start a audio tape on the PA system 15 minutes before closing. The tape stated in the Phily accented voice of our Regional Manager “We Will be closing in 15 minutes... there will be no refunds on games after closing... we will be closing in 15 minutes” followed be a bit of pink floyd and repeating the closing mantra every 5 minutes until “We Are Now Closed... There are no refunds on games after closing... Thank you good night”.


The story behind the tape has never been told... until now


You see this was the time before fancy dancy Digital gadgets and the like, My Regional Manager Mike (One of the hardest working men I ever worked for) had to sit down and turn on a cassette recorder, say his bit, turn on his Pink Floyd album ( yes... on a separate record player) and wait another 5 minutes. Well Mike did this at home, alone in his “Man Cave” and he decided some adult beverage would do him nicely for the task, the longer he waited the more he drank. The funny thing was, if you knew to listen for it... you could hear him getting drunker every 5 minutes... till at closing he sounded like he was hammered.


Their are allot of good memories from those days, how the city of Newark thought we were a front for the Jewish Mob, the fights in the pool room, but it was also also the twilight of the coin operated game, home systems were finally catching up, people stopped going out and started playing in. I remember when new games came out, you would have lines waiting to play, the coin bins would overflow, people would call and ask “do you have Gauntlet” then show up and play for 5 straight hours but in the end... there was no reason to leave your house, the graphics of the home systems were now on par with the Arcade machines, Business slowed and the doors closed forever.

6 comments:

kass said...

Awesome reminisences. Just totally awesome.

Is it wrong that I can hear the Philly accent in those words?

Dave Starks said...

I worked at said arcade (I hope I wasn't THAT unreliable)...I have lots of interesting memories from that job (which was one of my favorite jobs that I've ever had): I can still hear the sounds of people being cruelly tortured on "Chiller" if I think hard enough; "Dragon's Lair" generating LINES of people waiting just to SEE it; Tom Epp being able to play Q*Bert nigh infinitely long; Battle royals with Doug Roberts and others on Cyberball and Super Sprint; the beautiful vector graphics of Tempest and Space Duel; the night 20-30 skinheads came in but I didn't have any problem with them; "Rampage" being the most hilarious game ever; the very hot girls that came in, a couple of which I am friends with to this day; Brian Kendall's "Frat Rock" tape; my bro's Victor and Jerry coming in with the religious fervor of pilgrims; "EARTHSHAKERRRRRRR!!!!"...yeah, good times...

aravan said...

Oh god, Cyberball. I skipped school many times to go to the arcade to play that, as a result failing 4 of 7 classes the second half of my senior year. Good times. Titanium TE for the win!

Clockmaker said...

No Dave, you were fine, it was others that shall remain nameless that drove me crazy. Frat Rock, i remember playing that, I also remember Tom and I standing out front making up songs during the shift change.

Anonymous said...

I remember a friend having a brithday party at an arcade, they ran everyone out except the party and we had full run of all the games, as many times as we liked. My head exploded!

Anonymous said...

Sounds good, I like to read your blog, just added to my favorites ;).