Arcade1UP: Changing My Present By Taking Me Back To My Past

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When Arcade1up released their first collection of cabinets many arcade game enthusiasts were instantly excited. These beautiful cabinets were not just bringing us classic games, they were also triggering memorable moments from our youth. They also brought us back to a time when these games were brand new additions to our local arcade. When discussing Arcade1up’s latest offers from E3 with friends, I realized that we all had a very distinct connection and reasoning for wanting to fill up our living spaces with these boxes of joy. I would like to share my personal story which resulted in me purchasing the Pac-Man cabinet.

Life as a New York City kid wasn’t too bad in the 1980s. Yes, crime was through the roof and the city was broke, but there was still plenty of amazing things happening. Rap music was flowing out of boom boxes, and teenagers were mastering pop lock breakdancing while others were expressing their creativity doing graffiti all over the city. During this time period, I would partake in some of the before mentioned activities but with the following two additions, skateboarding and playing games at the arcades.

I grew up in Alphabet City located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. My parents divorced when I was young, however, my father who worked in the electronics wholesale business made sure to pick me up every weekend. The man loved to walk and talk so we would trek all over the Lower East Side talking about our week, what new electronics were coming out and all the while heading to our Friday night location which was always the Chinatown Fair.

Chinatown Fair (now named Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center) was and still is an arcade on the outer edge of Chinatown off of Chatham Square. This area is also known as the old five points. My father loved going to the arcades. Since it was the 80s, arcades were all the rage. There was one in every part of town and even some grocery stores would have one or two machines in the back to play. Chinatown Fair was our arcade of choice because unless you were from the area no one else really knew about it, thus it was never overly packed.

We would get $10 to $20 in quarters and spend hours playing the amazing games. One, in particular, that I would gravitate towards was Pac-Man. I would line up my quarters on the right side of the screen so others knew I was here for the long haul and my father would stand on my left-hand side ready to play as my coach. At this moment, nothing else mattered. The arcade sounds would fade out and it was just me, dad and Pac-Man. This is and will forever be the fondest memories I have with my father.

Fast-forward to Present day and I’m 41 years old, married with two young children. We moved out of New York City 4 years ago and the relationship with my Father has been nonexistent for decades. I still have a passion for video games thanks to my Father but besides that our connection ends there. A friend who remembered my Pac-Man story sent me a link saying “is this a must buy for you?” That link was to Arcade1up’s Pac-Man cabinet. At first glance, I was instantly taken back to Chinatown Fair. I could see myself playing and my dad’s reflection on the screen to my left. I replied “no”.

This arcade cabinet triggers some of the best memories of my childhood, while at the same time reminding me of the disconnect I have with my father. This past Father’s Day, I decided to purchase the cabinet and in turn create new memories with it. For starters, I assembled it with the help of my 7-year-old daughter. During the process, I would tell her all about my arcade experiences. Now she is no stranger to console gaming but has never played on an arcade cabinet.

Once complete, I made sure she was the first to play it and like my dad I stood to her left and played coach. My story was going to end here, with the point being that these cabinets Arcade1up are releasing are more than just nostalgia art pieces. Later that night, I noticed I had one missed call and a voicemail. It was from my father. We have not spoken in over a year and have not seen each other in over 10 years.

He simply said “Happy Father’s Day”. I called him back and instead of arguing about our past issues, I just told him about the Pac-Man cabinet. He remembered those Friday night arcade trips and for the next 30 minutes, we reminisced on those good times. At the end of the call, we agreed to get together back at Chinatown Fair during our next trip to NYC. He has never met his grandchildren. I guess it’s only fitting this first meeting takes place doing what we did best, which was having fun playing arcade games.

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Adam Vale Contributor
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