Recreation rooms are a jewel in the memory of some people, and something little short of inconceivable for others. And the key, as in so many and so many issues, is age. Thus, for the youngest, who since their earliest childhood have had computers and consoles at home, the concept of a place full of “little machines”, as we called them at the time, and in which you had to pay for each game, It sounds like science fiction or, even worse for my part, ancient history.
However, and for many years, arcades were some of the most thriving spaces, in which every afternoon (or at least when it was possible) we invested part of the weekly pay, and we dedicated a few (sometimes many) hours watching other players perform feats that seemed impossible to us. Thus, it was common to see, in an arcade, one person playing and three or four around watching the game. That’s why the concept of Twitch made me so funny when I got to know the platformBack in 2012 or 2013, it made me feel like in those days, only without the cacophony of the machines, the shouting of the crowd and the tobacco smoke.
I do not dare to affirm categorically that there are no more recreational halls in Spain, because only a few weeks ago they told me about a video store that is still operating, and it is another type of business that I already considered extinct. However, what is certain is that these spaces have disappeared from public life in our country and in much of the world … but not everywhere so far.
Today, however, we know from Yahoo! Japan that one of the last bastions of these entertainment spaces is about to close its doors forever, and it is that before the end of the year Sega to close all of its Akihabara, Tokyo arcades. You may not recognize Akihabara by name, but it is one of the most important commercial areas of the Japanese capital, and surely on more than one occasion you have seen images of its arcades, spaces frequented in part by local young people, but also by fans of all ages and tourists searching for iconic Tokyo sights and images.
Some of Sega’s most popular arcade games debuted at the arcades that the company still operates. Titles such as Virtua Fighter or Daytona USA, as well as machines with movement by hydraulic systems and those based on player movements have been, for many years, a fundamental element of Akihabara, competing with its famous consumer electronics stores.
The cause of the secure closure that you already imagine: the coronavirus. The incidence of the pandemic has been an unaffordable blow for Sega’s arcades, which have seen the influx of customers, both local and, especially, tourists, decrease substantially. The maintenance of these business units has finally proved impossible for Sega, which has chosen to leave the business and start 2021 without this activity.
It is important, however, to mention that Sega is closing its arcades, but has not announced that it will do the same with the production of arcade games, that is to say, of arcade machines. This, of course, makes us wonder about the hypothetical future that the “little machines” may have. Will the format of arcades be reformulated in the future? Will the recreational activities be sought to reach other spaces? In this regard, and although it is obviously not the same, it must be remembered that a large part of the recreational parks that existed in Spain in the eighties were in bars and cafes.
What do you think their space could be in the present, if they have it? And tDo you have any memories of arcades? Space Invaders, PacMan, After Burner, Operation Wolf, Gauntlet, Out Run, Dragon’s Lair? Were you more of the action and movement type? Or does all this sound like ancient history and you never got to know them?
In case you are still wondering if you have really seen in movies, series, etc. any image of the arcades of Akihabara, in this video from the About the World channel, you can see a guided tour of such an iconic space: