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Arcade Horror Stories Thread

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So, while we all remember the great times from the arcades, I'm sure many of you out there must have some horror stories as well...arcades, where I was from, were sometimes seedy places with a bit of a criminal element to them (drug dealers, gambling, fights in the alley). Yet as young kids who craved video games, we braved that stuff! Share any (mostly true!) tales of arcade adventures gone wrong!

 

I've got a few, but I'll start with this one: I'm playing a game of Side Arms, probably around 11 or 12, and all the sudden this goon comes over and starts talking to me, calling me "Mike"...which isn't my name, so I'm like "who is this crazy nutbar?"...he was harmless to begin with, but then he got more and more animated, asking for his money, what did I do with his money, and before I knew it I was hoofing it out the door with this guy and two of his friends chasing after me, looking for their money!...I'm shouting, "I'm not f#$king MIKE!!!" down the street...I was pretty freaked out at the time but I laugh about it now! I stayed outta there for a few weeks after that.

 

Any others?

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Not sure it's really a "horror story" but the "criminal element" statement reminds me of a story:

 

The arcade was Flipper's in the Point Loomis mall. It was a small arcade stuffed with games that was located near the end of one of the offshoot hallways from the main mall. To get to the arcade you had to walk past Hair Care Harmony, and in the early 80's, that meant that entire hallway smelled like perm solution.

 

One night I arrived at the arcade and presented the attendant with a crumpled dollar and asked for change. He was an older kid and snapped at me to unfold it and flatten it out. His skanky girlfriend was there and she said "don't yell at the poor kid." To which he retorted "I can't help it if the f---er is too cheap to buy a wallet!" Needless to say this exchange threw off my mojo and had an affect on my gaming skills that night.

 

About a half hour later, as I was getting my butt kicked at one of the row of Tempest machines, there was a commotion near the entrance. A kid came in and was yelling at the attendant making a scene. He claimed his bike was stolen and insisted the attendant knew something about it. The kid claimed that the attendant had a set of keys that both unlocked the arcade as well as a storage room next door. The kid further asserted that it was common knowledge that the empty storage room was in fact full of stolen bikes and served as a sort of chop shop for bikes. The kid got louder and more insistent. Not wanting this scene to go on any more the attendant finally relented and agreed to open the room. I saw him grab his bunch of keys and disappear down a dark hallway with the kid following behind. About 5 minutes I nearly got run over by the kid who had evidently located his new Redline BMK bike and was now riding it through the arcade and out the mall. You could tell he was pissed but also happy to be back with his bike so he left without further incident.

 

At the time it never even occurred to me to contact any authorities regarding the room. But it did teach me to always lock up my bike.

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I spent several years in my local time out in the mall. I always noticed the weird people, especially this one old guy. he would stand behind the kids, watchin them play for hours.

 

well, years later, I got a job at that very arcade. a scared parent came running into the back, screaming that someone molested her son. me and the other attendant, a 6 foot tall, 250 pound black guy, ran out into the game room, with baseball bats in hand. I saw the guy but the crowd was thick and by the time I got there, he took off. I never saw him ever again. this was 1989.

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When I was 11 I was playing pole position in an arcade here in town. This was the kind of machine you sit in. I got to into the game and my score was pretty high. To make a long story short I crashed on a corner and somehow rolled the machine over trying to regain control. My mom had to go to the police station to pick me up and I was banned from the arcade. There wasn't any damage to the machine thank god but the experience calmed me down a lot. Now I'm 33 and I see the guy that used to own the arcade quite often and once in a while he asks me If I crashed any arcades lately as a joke. Atleast he got past it.

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I spent several years in my local time out in the mall. I always noticed the weird people, especially this one old guy. he would stand behind the kids, watchin them play for hours.

 

well, years later, I got a job at that very arcade. a scared parent came running into the back, screaming that someone molested her son. me and the other attendant, a 6 foot tall, 250 pound black guy, ran out into the game room, with baseball bats in hand. I saw the guy but the crowd was thick and by the time I got there, he took off. I never saw him ever again. this was 1989.

 

To bad he got away. I cant tell you guys what I'd do to someone if I caught a guy like that but I will say I'd hope a cordless drill was handy. When things like this happens the punishment isn't harsh enough and I think execution is to nice for sickos like that. My neighbor moved because he was on the offenders list and every time I saw him I gave him a dirty look and then target practiced in my yard. I guess it made him uncomfortable. now I don't have to worry about my children going outside anymore. I hope that doesn't make me a bad guy.

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I spent several years in my local time out in the mall. I always noticed the weird people, especially this one old guy. he would stand behind the kids, watchin them play for hours.

 

well, years later, I got a job at that very arcade. a scared parent came running into the back, screaming that someone molested her son. me and the other attendant, a 6 foot tall, 250 pound black guy, ran out into the game room, with baseball bats in hand. I saw the guy but the crowd was thick and by the time I got there, he took off. I never saw him ever again. this was 1989.

 

To bad he got away. I cant tell you guys what I'd do to someone if I caught a guy like that but I will say I'd hope a cordless drill was handy. When things like this happens the punishment isn't harsh enough and I think execution is to nice for sickos like that. My neighbor moved because he was on the offenders list and every time I saw him I gave him a dirty look and then target practiced in my yard. I guess it made him uncomfortable. now I don't have to worry about my children going outside anymore. I hope that doesn't make me a bad guy.

 

Its weird because I noticed him all the time in the arcades, for years. I never paid him much attention and just thought he was a lonely guy who had nothing to do and liked to kill time watching video games. It makes me sick that he never got caught. The arcade I worked in was Time Out in the Sunrise Mall.

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I'm pretty sure the teenage wasteoid that run the arcade by me was dealing pot out the back room (every hour or so a different guy would follow him back to the office area and come out about 5 min later stuffing something into a jacket or pants pocket), but being 10-11 at the time I really didn't think much about it. I saw some kid flash a switchblade at another once after a few heated words over a game of Street Fighter II but they left with no blood being drawn.

 

I also seem to recall two dumb looking kids rocking a change machine back and forth for a few minutes until the operator shooed them off. I'm not sure what they were trying to do as you can't 'shake' change out of those things as far as I know. It was funny to watch because they had that thing seriously rocking.

 

Tempest

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I'm pretty sure the teenage wasteoid that run the arcade by me was dealing pot out the back room (every hour or so a different guy would follow him back to the office area and come out about 5 min later stuffing something into a jacket or pants pocket), but being 10-11 at the time I really didn't think much about it. I saw some kid flash a switchblade at another once after a few heated words over a game of Street Fighter II but they left with no blood being drawn.

 

I also seem to recall two dumb looking kids rocking a change machine back and forth for a few minutes until the operator shooed them off. I'm not sure what they were trying to do as you can't 'shake' change out of those things as far as I know. It was funny to watch because they had that thing seriously rocking.

 

Tempest

 

yea, I saw some drug dealing going down in ghetto arcade in our mall. the time out one more more upper class and the upstairs galaxy one was ratty and you knew trouble was in there.

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Back in college, I witnessed a guy suffer a total meltdown while playing "Back to the Future" pinball in the student center. I was a couple of tables down from him on another game, and I could hear him mumbling to himself and, occasionally, he would bark out some random expletive.

 

But when he lost his final ball, he came utterly undone. He started screaming at the table, then took about three steps back, summoned all his fury, and began delivering a series of ferocious, flat-footed, diving straight kicks to the front of the table. He kicked that game harder than anything I've ever seen kicked in my life. Each kick was lifting the front of the cabinet a good 6 inches of the floor. As disturbing as it was, I was seriously impressed. How he didn't instantly shatter his foot or shin bone, especially considering the fact that he was only wearing flimsy tennis shoes, remains a mystery.

 

Needless to say, I got out of there in short order.

Edited by Christophero Sly

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Not an arcade, but I still remember a freaky incident from my childhood involving an "Elevator Action" game at the local supermarket. An old guy came over to me asking to show him how to play it. So being a naive little kid I obliged. Then another guy walked over, they started talking and then left. Of course he was probably some perv, yikes.

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Not an arcade, but I still remember a freaky incident from my childhood involving an "Elevator Action" game at the local supermarket. An old guy came over to me asking to show him how to play it. So being a naive little kid I obliged. Then another guy walked over, they started talking and then left. Of course he was probably some perv, yikes.

 

I can't recall the exact game, but I know for sure I was approached like that at least a couple of times back when I was a kid. I didn't know any better. Luckily there were plenty of other people there and they didn't try much more than that. I think arcades were prime hunting grounds for pervs.

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I'm sure I could think of quite a few stories, but here's one from 1999, right after I graduated high school.

 

My mom and I took a week trip to New Hampshire, so I could go to Funspot and enjoy Weirs Beach and its boardwalk, among other things. On the last day of our vacation, we made another stop at Funspot. Unfortunately, I was playing APB and got the infamous "LOUSY COP!!" screen, which caused me to lose my temper, resulting in me kicking the machine a few times while cursing it out.

 

The gaming gods were apparently angry at me, since lightning struck outside the place not once, but twice! The second time, it was while I was playing that game!

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I grew up in a small Michigan town of about 16,000 people yet back in 1982 we had at least two arcades. They were downtown in the bar district. I was only about 11 or 12 so my parents wouldn't let me go to them, but my older brother (15-16) got mugged one night. I think he just lost a couple of bucks, but he was pretty shook up about it.

 

 

The only time I got to go to them was after report cards came out and the arcades would give you free tokens for good grades and then only in the daytime with another friend.

 

 

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I remember at Chuck E Cheese they had a closet room with a strobe light in it. One time there was some creepy old guy just sitting in there, asking kids if they wanted to come in and of course offering to pay the token to start the strobe. Seemed pretty un safe since the door would close completely and there was no lights (except the strobe) I remember even though I was a young kid I got a bad vibe from the guy and never went in there.

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Wow, some of these are pretty creepy!...I've never encountered any pervs or that kind of thing, thankfully!...just goons wanting to beat the crap out of you and steal your money. No wonder a lot of parents back in the day didn't want their kids going to arcades...I can only think of two that weren't pool halls, with all the gambling and other things going on. Drugs, mainly. But, as a young kid in those days, it was kinda exciting; the games were the object, but the damn lengths you'd go to so you could play some. It's laughable now!...for instance...

 

The longest trek that I willingly walked to get to an arcade, one way, was around three miles...which doesn't seem all that long, but back then it was a looooong walk, just to spend two bucks :D .

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Man, you guys hung out in the perv districts for sure. I mainly went to Aladdin's Castle in the mall and a couple others in mainstream strip malls. Nothing creepy or perverted, but I did get an eyeful of a nice looking lady's breasts once, She was wearing a short crop-top and bent over to tie her shoes, nicely displaying everything she had from the rear perspective. Best arcade experience ever.

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At the student center where I went to college, they had about 6-8 arcade cabinets and some

pool tables. There was a homeless and/or crazy guy who would hang out aimlessly there

from time to time. His smell was pretty alarming, and he had a custom-decorated shirt on with

all sorts of things scrawled on it, including professions of his hatred of God and his

love of masturbation.

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Man, you guys hung out in the perv districts for sure. I mainly went to Aladdin's Castle in the mall and a couple others in mainstream strip malls. Nothing creepy or perverted, but I did get an eyeful of a nice looking lady's breasts once, She was wearing a short crop-top and bent over to tie her shoes, nicely displaying everything she had from the rear perspective. Best arcade experience ever.

 

Theres always one perverted weirdo in an arcade. If you can't find him, maybe you should try looking in the mirror! icon_mrgreen.gif

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I'd like to know the timeframe of those stories, since I thonk that in the beginnings of the Arcade era, it was way better than that. I noticed these kind of bad attendance only when I was grown up.

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I'd like to know the timeframe of those stories, since I thonk that in the beginnings of the Arcade era, it was way better than that. I noticed these kind of bad attendance only when I was grown up.

 

My story was probably around 1986-7 I think...realize that ANY arcade in my town was 'shady', up until 1988 where the 'family' concept was pushed. Then you had more than just video games: ticket redemption games really brought out the kids and families, at least for a while.

 

But when it was just video games and pool tables?...pure adventure, I say!..you had to be a pretty big video game fan to take your chances in those places, especially considering how young we were. It certainly wasn't all creepy weirdo people of course, but there was certainly that 'circus carny' element around.

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Well it's not a Horror story but back in the day around 1980 to 1982 we used to go to these arcades in this

little town in Ireland where I grew up.After school there was always a couple of tough kids from the bad part of town

who would try and get money of us to play games If you didn't have any money then they wanted your last man so there

was no getting out of it.Actually the funny thing is that most of these tough kids turned out to be nice guys today.

I guess back then they didn't have a lot of money and having to watch us prob pissed them off so I can sympathise but

at the time it could be a nightmare.

 

If you want a real horror story then what about the arcade game Berzerk.

 

From Wiki.

 

Berzerk was the first video game known to have been involved in the death of a player. In January 1981, 19-year-old Jeff Dailey died of a heart attack soon after posting a score of 16,660 on Berzerk.[8] In October of the following year, Peter Burkowski made the Berzerk top-ten list twice in fifteen minutes, just a few seconds before also dying of a heart attack at the age of 18.[9]

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My story was probably around 1986-7 I think...realize that ANY arcade in my town was 'shady', up until 1988 where the 'family' concept was pushed. Then you had more than just video games: ticket redemption games really brought out the kids and families, at least for a while.

 

 

That happening to my favorite arcades IS a horror story. It didn't work very well in my neck of the woods. The "family fun centers" were devoid of both teenagers and parents with little kids. If not for a Hard Drivin 2, I wouldn't have been there either. Once the force feedback on it died and went unrepaired, I stopped going too. Place shut down less than a year later. The former location of a Gold Mine in the same mall was already walled over as though it had never been *shudder*.

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So, it is pretty safe to say that arcades were 'safe and fun places' until the mid 80s in the US and UK.

Since in Italy things started later (as usual) I think that the golden age ended in the late 80s.

 

Of course, I don't mean that horror storied didn't happen before that, only talked about the environment in general.

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Horror stories? When I was in HS, the drug dealing was the point. Drop by the arcade, find a friend (or a friend of a friend(of a friend)). Go get burnt. Come back to the arcade and play video games. Repeat all summer long.

 

Worst arcade I ever went into was lit up like a dentist's office. How's a kid supposed to misbehave like that?

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I spent several years in my local time out in the mall. I always noticed the weird people, especially this one old guy. he would stand behind the kids, watchin them play for hours.

 

well, years later, I got a job at that very arcade. a scared parent came running into the back, screaming that someone molested her son. me and the other attendant, a 6 foot tall, 250 pound black guy, ran out into the game room, with baseball bats in hand. I saw the guy but the crowd was thick and by the time I got there, he took off. I never saw him ever again. this was 1989.

 

To bad he got away. I cant tell you guys what I'd do to someone if I caught a guy like that but I will say I'd hope a cordless drill was handy. When things like this happens the punishment isn't harsh enough and I think execution is to nice for sickos like that. My neighbor moved because he was on the offenders list and every time I saw him I gave him a dirty look and then target practiced in my yard. I guess it made him uncomfortable. now I don't have to worry about my children going outside anymore. I hope that doesn't make me a bad guy.

 

Threatening your neighbor with a gun on a daily basis? No, that's completely rational behavior. Don't worry, there's nothing wrong with having your car on cement blocks either. All those people staring are just jealous.

 

I don't know what arcades you folks have been going to, but I have extremely positive memories of the experience, with a bare minimum of "creepy guys offering to show you puppies." I can certainly understand the trend away from them, though. Why go out when you've got arcade-quality hardware at home?

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