How ‘Barcades’ are Breathing New Life into the Arcades

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Space Invaders Arcade

The 1970s and 80s were a golden era for video gaming. Most towns and cities across the country had bricks-and-mortar arcades, encouraging gamers young and old to take their pocket money and entertain themselves on everything from Space Invaders to Pong. Space Invaders proved the economic model of arcades was viable, raking in over $5 billion in quarters alone during 1982.

Nevertheless, the late 1980s and early 90s brought about the rapid proliferation of home game consoles that almost rendered arcades null and void. Gamers could play their favorite titles in the comfort of their living room or bedroom. Furthermore, simple retro gaming titles gave way to more immersive and complex open-world and first-person games that left the concept of arcades trailing in the wake of next-generation consoles like the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64.

However, the arcade scene is threatening a revival among millennials, thanks largely to the launch of the Barcade franchise throughout the US. The brainchild of Paul Kermizian, Barcade enjoyed humble beginnings in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. Kermizian and a group of pals opened Barcade in 2004, fusing the city’s increasing love of ingenious craft beers with retro arcade gaming.

By 2013, Barcade had become a franchise with three new locations in Philadelphia, Manhattan, and Jersey City, with Kermizian employing over 50 staff. Kermizian admitted to being “surprised” at the way Barcade became more of a staple in people’s social scene than he anticipated. He even revealed that the next generation of “vidkids” is regulars at Barcades, with “some of the best players in the world on [their] scoreboards”.


Barcades galore from east coast to the west coast

It’s a similar story on the west coast of the US too. Los Angeles has also been quick to latch onto the barcade scene, with arcade-themed watering holes now the order of the day. Jordan Weiss, the co-founder of the Button Marsh barcade in LA, said they draw a “pretty diverse crowd”, with hoards of children playing on the cabinet arcade machines while their “hip, young parents” sip on “ales and IPAs”.

The beauty of barcades and arcade gaming, in general, is that they offer a relaxed, fun environment. Retro arcade games don’t tend to take themselves too seriously. They know their limitations and they don’t pretend to be something they aren’t. That curries favor with most time-poor millennials who don’t have the time to immerse themselves in hours of gameplay, which is one of the main reasons why the hyper-casual mobile gaming industry has surged too. Combine that demand for short-burst gameplay with flavorsome craft beers on tap and it’s easy to see why barcades have become a winning combo, bringing retro games back into the mainstream.

Atari 2600

The online casino industry has also helped to rediscover the love of retro gaming. Various video slot developers have demonstrated that their fingers are firmly on the pulse of popular culture by releasing arcade-style slot titles, eight of which can be found on VegasSlotsOnline, including Space Arcade and Arcade Bomb. Retro slots differ greatly to the next-generation 3D video slots, which have slick animations and separate screens for bonus games. Nevertheless, arcade-style slots have always had that pick-up-and-play appeal that has maintained through the generations.

Reboots of classic arcade games are also available online in Flash format. Although Flash is increasingly being phased out in favor of HTML5-powered games, it’s still possible to find retro games dating back as far as the Atari 2600 and 7800, as well as those designed exclusively for coin-operated arcade cabinets. Unfortunately for these sites, they don’t offer hipster beverages and snacks for the company, but it’s the next best way for millennials to relive those fond childhood memories.

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