Once again, a thread in the CHUD forums has inspired me to write for your amusement.

I seriously need to get new material.

It’s just that something that has been itching at the back of my mind for quite some time was brought to my conscious attention by the thread I just mentioned:

I miss arcades.

It’s a bittersweet state of affairs when our own advancements in culture, technology, science, and the like bring us glorious new wonders, but at the same time make things that we love obsolete – sending those already archaic institutions and creations into oblivion.  Horror show hosts, drive-in theaters… arcades…  The goodness we create inadvertently and inevitably destroys the wonderful that we loved.

And right now I’m missing arcades.

It’s actually a cyclical, self-dooming prophecy of sorts.  As a kid, the arcade was one of my favourite places to be.  As most children of the eighties raised by TV and carrying their own house key, most trips to the mall meant two things – the toy store and the arcade.  If there was time and the ‘rents were feeling generous, both got plenty of love.  But if a young, pre-ADD-generation rambunctious tyke had to make a choice…. there was no better place to waste time and have fun than the Aladdin’s Castle Arcade over by the food court.

But no matter how much time I got to spend in that dark, smoky cave of seizure-inducing lights, it was fleeting.  And once that last quarter was spent, it was time to head back home… or to the hardware department of Sears where boredom and disinterest prevailed.  Either way, in the interim between visits to that den of bleeps and bloops I spent a lot of time wishing I could just play those games at home all the time, without having to plunk quarter after quarter into a coin slot.  The home consoles of the time were great, but I wanted to be able to play what the arcades had in the comfort of our own home.

Be careful what you wish for.

Now I have a home console that rivals, if not bests, the stuff you would be able to find in what arcades are left across the country.  For a one-time-fee (unless there’s DLC), I can sit in the comfort of my home on my couch and play my favourite games ad nauseum.  I don’t even have to wear clothes!

Sorry for that visual.

But the point remains.  I have exactly what I wished for as a wee lad (well, except for my own real lightsaber and sweet kung fu moves) – the ability to play what the arcades had without leaving the comfort of my living room and wasting quarters.  The sad fact is that all too often I now find myself wishing I could go to the arcades I loved from my youth and play all of the classic games I still adore in all their Metal-Washington-chomping glory.

Unfortunately the arcade is another one of those dying pieces of Americana.  You can still find one here and there, but most often they are only filled with fighting, shooting, dance, and driving games with a side order of ticket-spewers.  Not quite the same as the random variety of pixellated entertainment that used to populate the glory dens of old.  But man – what I wouldn’t give for that chance to experience that wonderment again as an adult.

I promise I’d even put pants on.