The Lost Arcade, a documentary about the encroachment of gentrficiation upon the last real video arcade in Manhattan, is now available to watch online.
Directed by Kurt P. Vincent, the story is as much about the Chinatown Fair's community as the games, celebrating the final years of a pop culture phenomenon that moved into our homes so slowly we never realized what we were losing.
"I wanted to create a film that would capture the spirit that hit me the first time I walked through those doors," writes Vincent. "There was a melting pot of a community that congregated there, where all walks of life came together and shared one common interest: video games. It was a microcosm of what New York was all about. Not the overpriced New York we've come to accept, but what this city originally stood for and still does when you look deep enough."
The Lost Arcade sheds a behind-the-scenes light into the demise of arcade culture, as it coincided with the rise of home console and online gaming, and showcases the dichotomy of how gamers connected then vs. now. But more importantly, it highlights the diversity and camaraderie among the competitive gamer community that arcades like Chinatown Fair were so uniquely able to foster.
View links: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, VHX, Vimeo, and Vudu.
Previously: The Lost Arcade: doc about rebirth of legendary NYC arcade Read the rest
The last manufacturer of arcade-sized cathode ray tubes is out of the business, with one supplier having only 30 or so in stock and no chance of ordering more. The manufacturing process is difficult enough that it's unlikely anyone will step into the breach; Venturebeat's Jeff Grubb reports that times will be good for skilled repairers.
“I have a feeling that — y’know how there are those guys doing pinball repair on the side — there will probably be some guy you can send your monitor to and have him rewind the bulb,” says Ware. “I think it’s going to be really expensive.” A CRT tube is very heavy, so shipping costs alone would be costly. “Right now, I don’t know of anyone who does [the winding].”
To fill the void, Day suggests that new companies will emerge to reproduce those old machines using only modern-day technology. An LCD screen connected to a PC running a piece of software that approximates the original experience will be adequate for most people.
CRT emulation is amazing, but still obviously such to me. But I bet using curved OLED panels embedded in thick CRT-style glass would fool my eye in darkness. There's yer Kickstarter.
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Jeff Atwood (coincidentally the cocaine-dusted, AK-toting godfather of our comment system) writes at length about the absolutely fabulous things that the tiny, supremely adaptable Raspberry Pi computers have done for the emulation scene. His posting doubles as a useful how-to for those unfamiliar with the drill.
1. The ascendance of Raspberry Pi has single-handedly revolutionized the emulation scene.
2. Chinese all-in-one JAMMA cards are available everywhere for about $90.
3. Cheap, quality arcade size IPS LCDs of 18-23".
This is most definitely the funnest and cheapest way to get into arcade emulation when you want to step beyond apps. If you're not into messing around with linux and configuration files and whatnot, an Intel Compute Stick (which comes with Windows) is a more expensive but easier path than a Pi. But you'll still have to deal with the hardware.
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Remember Billy Mitchell, the star of excellent videogame documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters? In 1999, the Donkey Kong champ was also the first person confirmed to attain a perfect score on Pac-Man.
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MAME, the arcade emulator originally created by Nicola Salmoria 19 years ago, is now comprised entirely of free and open-source software. It's taken a lot of wrangling, reports MAMEDev.org, due to the large number of contributors and interlinked components.
After 19 years, MAME is now available under an OSI-compliant and FSF-approved license! Many thanks to all of the contributors who helped this to go as smoothly as possible!
We have spent the last 10 months trying to contact all people that contributed to MAME as developers and external contributors and get information about desired license. We had limited choice to 3 that people already had dual-license MAME code with.
As a result, a great majority of files (over 90% including core files) are available under the 3-Clause BSD License but project as a whole is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2 or later (GPL-2.0+), since it contains code made available under multiple GPL-compatible licenses.
I still remember building a MAME cabinet, someone asking "which game is that?" and having the pleasure of saying "all of them."
Correction: Nicola Salmoria's name was originally misspelled "Salmora." Read the rest
Aaron Fechter is the creator of the Rock-afire Explosion, the animatronic band that made greasy memories at Showbiz Pizza throughout the 1980s. He also insists he's the inventor of Whac-A-Mole, based on a similar Japanese game that he saw in 1976, although the company that popularized it call bullshit on that claim. Now, Fechter has a new game in the works, Bashy Bug, and he's banking on its success to save his career, and his legacy. From Popular Mechanics
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Day two of the (International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions Convention) finds Fechter on the floor but with a non-working game. This is the first public debut of Bashy Bug.
As Fechter promised, the game is mechanical. The player operates a giant rubber flip-flop while a mutated cockroach skitters underfoot. If you can step on the bug, you earn a point. If the bug escapes when you bring your foot down, the bug earns a point. I know from experience that the system has been wired with a jerking intelligence to randomly stop the bug's run just short of the target that makes this harder than it sounds, and after the bug has scored a few points against you, you'll find yourself sucked in. But nobody here will have that opportunity.
"I haven't slept," Fechter tells me, standing in front of this monument of a purple machine with an animatronic roach face hovering above the scoreboard and Billy Bob painted on the cabinet. There is a mania in his voice that I would blame on fatigue if I hadn't interviewed him before.
Changing technology made it a legend, then gentrification killed it. But Chinatown Fair, Manhattan's legendary video arcade, is open to players again in a new location. The Lost Arcade is a forthcoming documentary about a place best summed up in the line: "of course the best players went there. It was the only place still open."
Chinatown Fair opened as a penny arcade on Mott Street in 1944. Over the decades, the dimly lit gathering place, known for its tic-tac-toe playing chicken, became an institution, surviving turf wars between rival gangs, changing tastes and the explosive growth of home gaming systems like Xbox and Playstation that shuttered most other arcades in the city. But as the neighborhood gentrified, this haven for a diverse, unlikely community faced its strongest challenge, inspiring its biggest devotees to next-level greatness.
The premiere showings are on Nov. 14 and 18th, 2015, in New York City at IFC Center.
More from the description:
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The story focuses on three members of the Chinatown Fair community: Akuma, a young man who found refuge in the arcade after running away from foster care; Henry Cen, a
kid who grew up in Chinatown and became one of the best Street Fighter players in the world; ￼￼￼￼and Sam Palmer, father figure and longtime owner of Chinatown Fair.
When Sam is forced to close Chinatown Fair, Henry and Akuma refuse to let the arcade
community die and create Next Level, a modern incarnation of the classic arcade located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Polygon's Willie Clark finds out what it's like to operate a video arcade in an age of pocket supercomputers, of Dave and Buster, of booming rents.
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"There really is an obsolescence factor with these things," Horne says. "There's going to come a point where they're just going to get more and more rare."
That just reinforces one of the most important points Horne stresses when it comes to opening an arcade bar.
"It's very important to have a very good video game repairman," Horne says. "It's very important. Probably the number one thing. And bring your patience when it comes to sourcing the games."
Pac-Man's creator Toru Iwatani shows his original notebook sketches from the iconic arcade game that turned 35 this year. Read the rest
Photo: Andy Baio
When writer and technologist Andy Baio had a son, he thought it would be a good opportunity for an experiment (as you do):
I love games, and I genuinely wanted Eliot to love and appreciate them too. So, here was my experiment:
What happens when a 21st-century kid plays through video game history in chronological order?
Start with the arcade classics and Atari 2600, from Asteroids to Zaxxon. After a year, move on to the 8-bit era with the NES and Sega classics. The next year, the SNES, Game Boy, and classic PC adventure games. Then the PlayStation and N64, Xbox and GBA, and so on until we’re caught up with the modern era of gaming.
It's a great bit of writing on nostalgia and games, but on a practical level, Baio's son Eliot is the envy of any score-chaser, finishing The Legend of Zelda
entirely on his own by age six. Now eight, he could be the youngest person ever to completely beat Mossmouth's popular, punishing roguelike Spelunky
Given that many people think esports as college athletics could actually become A Thing, start training your kids young, one supposes. Read the rest
Arcades in movies, 1975-1994. Read the rest
Steven Frank looks back on a triumphant 1980s childhood moment, when he beat the laserdisc arcade game Dragon's Lair to the astonishment of onlookers. Read the rest
We've all played one of those arcade "claw" games where a mechanical lobster claw is rigged to let go of prizes. But have you ever played with the prizes being live lobsters?
[The Atlantic] Read the rest
At The Verge, Laura June takes us on a beautifully-illustrated journey through the life story of the American video arcade:
If you’ve never been inside a “real” arcade, it could be hard to distinguish one from say, oh, a Dave & Buster’s. Authenticity is a hard nut to crack, but there are a few hallmarks of the video game arcade of days gone by: first, they have video games. Lots and lots of video games, and (usually) pinball machines. They’re dark (so that you can see the screens better), and they don’t sell food or booze. You can make an exception for a lonely vending machine, sure, but full meals? No thanks. There’s no sign outside that says you “must be 21 to enter.” These are rarely family-friendly institutions, either. Your mom wouldn’t want to be there, and nobody would want her there, anyway. This is a place for kids to be with other kids, teens to be with other teens, and early-stage adults to serve as the ambassador badasses in residence for the younger generation. It’s noisy, with all the kids yelling and the video games on permanent demo mode, beckoning you to waste just one more quarter. In earlier days (though well into the ‘90s), it’s sometimes smoky inside, and the cabinets bear the scars of many a forgotten cig left hanging off the edge while its owner tries one last time for a high score, inevitably ending in his or her death. The defining feature of a “real” arcade, however, is that there aren’t really any left. Read the rest
Innovative leisure courtesy of the Arcade Museum. The reverse side explains the coolness for contemporary business operators; the arcade distributor it was addressed to appears to still be in business! Clearly, they bought ten of these babies and knew what to do with 'em. [Thanks, #8384!] Read the rest