The Arcade Renewal: What’s Behind the Resurgence?

You spot that Ms. Pac-Man cocktail table for sale and you can’t help but feel nostalgic for days gone by. You spent hours at the local arcade, not only in an effort to beat your buddy’s score on the latest and greatest hit, but also to escape from reality and enter a virtual but also very real world where you and your friends could waste the weekend away, and the afternoons after the final school bell rang, if your parents allowed it.

Arcades Make a Comeback

Maybe you’ve noticed a change developing in the local bar scene. When you sneak away from familial responsibilities to grab a beer with your buddies from your younger days, you notice a few of those old arcade machines showing up in the dark corners of the restaurant or bar. Maybe you pop in a few quarters and play a few rounds just for old time’s sake, but then you find yourself wanting more. Your friends tell you about a nearby bar completely devoted to classic arcade games as its main theme, and you jump at the chance to visit.

Believe it or not, these classic arcade machine bars, or “barcades,” as they are commonly called, are beginning to pop up across the country. From one of the first, the original joint that was launched in 2004 and called “Barcade” in Brooklyn, New York, to “Brewcade” in San Francisco, there are hundreds, if not thousands of these establishments across the nation.

Why the Revival?

Why are arcades coming back into style now? Well, one can examine the addition to these arcades that the arcades of your youth didn’t have – alcohol – as a clue. These arcades aren’t built for the youngest consumers. They are designed to attract the young consumers of the 70s and 80s who are now middle-aged adults. There is a major nostalgic factor involved, and it probably has something to do with why record players are also coming back to the forefront: nobody wants to forget their youth. In fact, they even get to a point in their life when they want to re-live it to a certain extent, albeit in a “grown-up” manner, and that’s what barcades are for.