Slice of Life: Slotting Quarters the Vintage Arcade

(This is for Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers. Come join us in writing a Slice of Life every day for the month of March. You will be part of a large and growing community of teachers-as-writers. We also use the #sol14 hashtag on Twitter. Plus, there are prizes for the Slice of Life challenge.)


A new place opened up not far from our house, a small restaurant that is packed to the gills with vintage arcade games of yore. Asteroids, Space Invaders, Lunar Command, Joust,  Centipede Burger Time, 1942 and more are all on display around the walls of this place. Ironically, though, there is no Pac Man or Donkey Kong. So, my sons and I broke into our piggy bank (yes, we have one), stuffed a bunch of quarters into our pockets, and made our way to the new place to check it out. It’s called … Quarters.

It’s a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, just as you might suspect. But it was mobbed, with parents (OK, mostly fathers) and kids, stuffing coins into slots and playing games with graphics that have to make you laugh. These are not your kids’ video games. These are old consoles, and yet, there is some nostalgic appeal to them. I remember hours in arcades during the summer, at the bowling alley or at my grandmother’s pool in New York City, playing many of these same machines.

My 13 year old son and I had a tournament of sorts with Asteroids, playing multiple games in order to get our name on the winner board. We succeeded (and I scored higher than he did — high five for the old man). These games are a lot harder to play than they seem, and you quickly understand some of the ingenuity that went into their creation with the limited computer power and graphics of the time.

As we were leaving, a few quarters lighter than when we arrived, he turned to me, and said, “I bet this is from a bunch of guys who just love video games and had these in their basements.”

He’s probably right.

Peace (in the play),

PS — you can also play a lot of these games online now. Check out Classic Arcade Games. Or check out Microsoft’s site for Atari Arcade.

  1. How fun! I wasn’t a gamer as a kid, but I know a lot of people “of a certain age”…. *coughs*… my age…. who would love to visit this place!

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun, Kevin. I’m old enough that I remember loving playing the old pinball machines, then moved to some of these games with my kids at places like Chuckie Cheese. I was hooked on a stand alone pac man for a while. Sounds like someone had a great idea for a new business!

  3. Excellent! I want one of these to open up near me … though I think I’d mostly want pinball and Pacman!

    Looking forward to catching up with you in the March challenge! Today I posted the 4th episode of my comic, and I’d love to know what you think.

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