Ars Technica :: The surprising, stealth rebirth of the American arcade

The arcade industry is dead in the United States—everyone knows it—done in by a combination of rapidly advancing home consoles and rapidly expanding suburbanization in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The only people not in on this bit of conventional wisdom are the ones who happen to be opening a surprising number of successful new arcades around the country.

Adam Pratt, who runs industry website Arcade Heroes when he isn’t managing his own arcade in West Valley City, Utah, tracked at least 12 major, dedicated, independent US arcades opening their doors in 2011, with 10 more opening so far this year. That might not be enough to rival numbers from the golden age of arcades, but it’s a notable expansion from the years before.

“I have missed plenty of locations, but despite that, there really has been an increase over the past two years or so,” Pratt told me. “News occasionally comes along of a place closing, but it is far outweighed by openings.” And almost all of these locations are thriving, based on what Pratt has been hearing.

Could the trend continue? ”I guarantee you’re going to see at least two or three [arcades] in every city in this country within the next 10 to 15 years,” said Chris Laporte, founder of Las Vegas arcade Insert Coin(s), which recently announced an expansion to a second location in downtown Minneapolis. ”That’s because the geeks have inherited the earth. People who grew up on this stuff have now grown up, but they’re not really grown-ups, you know what I mean?”


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