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CreeB

Have you worked at an arcade?

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I have. I worked at the Hollywood Arcade in Ocean City, NJ from 2008 to 2015. Then afterwards, I started working at an arcade on Coney Island in Brooklyn.

 

Hollywood Arcade was pretty nice. They had a Who Tommy pinball machine, and a nice offering of classics, even though there was a Class of 81 machine.

 

Can't say the same for the Coney Island one. There's absolutely NO classics whatsoever save for Class of 81, and all it is is just newer shooting/racing/fighting crap, along with kiddie gambling- sorry, I mean redemption machines. No pinball either.

 

I've been trying to quit my job and work at Yestercades in Red Bank, NJ or Go Play in Belmar, NJ. They have more classics than this Coney Island nonsense.

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I worked at a few back in the 90's, and wanted (and came close to having) my own arcade.

I worked at the Student Union arcade at the University of Iowa, ran a few NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat II tournaments for fun.

 

Also worked at an Aladdin's Castle, which wasn't as bad as I feared.  Learned while working there that the Virtua Fighter 3 machine was $13,000!!  The guys who worked there and I loved it to pieces, but it underperformed due to not being as popular as the much worse looking but super fun Tekken 3.  And one day the news came down from corporate, we were to gut the beautiful machine and display and turn it into a Blitz game.  Uggggggggggh.  I stole the carboard hanging sign for it though, so at least I still have that. :)

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I wanted to but I was too dumb and stupid at the time.

 

But later on, after learning about all the hacks and duck-tape repairs the techs did, I wasn't so keen on the idea. Furthermore I'm not the one to go adjusting CRTs and stuff. Tweak this way, maybe better that way, but this way looks right, but throws off the previous adjustment. Down a rabbithole! And fixing intermittent electronics? Not for me!

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I never worked at an arcade but I owned some machines (well, still do) and in the 80s (mostly) would put them out, usually splitting profits with the owners...

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I worked at a Putt-Putt in the mid-late 90s. Games I remember we had: Daytona USA, Mortal Kombat (not sure which ones - we had a couple different ones), Crusin USA, NFL Blitz, NBA Hangtime, Hydro Thunder, Puzzle Bobble (I think), Strikers 1945.  Also... back in the corner we had an old black and white Atari Football cocktail machine, which was surprisingly fun to play (probably why it was still there in the 90s I'm guessing).

Edited by Ben_Larson

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I worked part time (as a 15 year old) at a local arcade.  Minimum pay, but I got to play for free, before opening and after closing.🙂

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On 7/6/2021 at 4:20 PM, CreeB said:

I've been trying to quit my job and work at Yestercades in Red Bank, NJ or Go Play in Belmar, NJ. They have more classics than this Coney Island nonsense.

I've been to Yestercades in Red Bank.  Very cool arcade.  You may want to check out the Morristown Game Vault.  Not as large as Yestercades, but a really nice setup/mix of coin-ops.

 

 

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32 minutes ago, sramirez2008 said:

I've been to Yestercades in Red Bank.  Very cool arcade.  You may want to check out the Morristown Game Vault.  Not as large as Yestercades, but a really nice setup/mix of coin-ops.

 

 

And 5 years later I still haven't made that trip to Northern NJ. It's been tough times for me.

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I have worked at arcades. The biggest one was Aladdin's Castle in Springfield, Illinois. It was owned by Namco at the time.

It created some complications in my Pro Tekken career. My paychecks were from Namco. I technically worked for Namco.

 

I have tons of awesome and crazy stories.

 

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For anyone that thinks they arent smart enough to work in an arcade, you can. Most of your day is going to be vacuuming,  cleaning screens, fixing token and ticket jams, etc.

 

Once you have done it for awhile, you learn more, like swapping joysticks and buttons and redemption (Collecting the tokens from the machines). Monitors were not an everyday thing people worked on.

And once you have a firm grasp on how it all works you will figure out which games have a broken coin meter or no meter at all. Or you learn to disconnect the meter and you take all the tokens out and sell them to people coming into the arcade. Jungle Jive instantly comes to mind as there are a shit ton of coins not locked up for gameplay and there are notoriously NO coin meters in this game.

 

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Edited by Draxxon
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Glad you pointed some of that out, @Draxxon - 

I went to a real-deal arcade recently, Player's Choice in Myrtle Beach(Highly recommended!).

The jump button wasn't working on the Track and Field machine, I mentioned it to the tech, he fixed it and thanked me for mentioning it.

Other machines had loose sticks, flaky buttons, etc-

I was thinking-"Man, I swear, if you'll let me access the control panel, I could fix it myself...".

I have a couple X-Arcades, and aftermarket stuff in them for the most part, switches/buttons/joysticks.

I REALLY think I could go thru an arcade and spend a couple days refurbishing stuff and making it feel "new" again, except the electronics.

My problem is-I'm pretty OCD. I'd swap out all the buttons and sticks in all the machines in a few days, and wouldn't have a job anymore...

:)

My first Cab was a Super Off-Road, 2 player track pack-the pedals and wheels were shot, but with spacers, new screws, and patience, I got it pretty solid again!

 

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On 9/13/2021 at 10:38 AM, Draxxon said:

I have worked at arcades. The biggest one was Aladdin's Castle in Springfield, Illinois. It was owned by Namco at the time.

It created some complications in my Pro Tekken career. My paychecks were from Namco. I technically worked for Namco.

 

I have tons of awesome and crazy stories.

 

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You're one of the lucky ones where your Aladdin's stayed open. All of the ones I had frequented closed when Bally's filed bankruptcy. The only Namco Time out location I saw opened had a five year window in a newly built mall across town.

 

I worked part time for a buddy at his local arcade in the summer of '93. Best part was playing tons of Street Fighter II: Champion Edition. Only problem was our local Aladdin's Castle had a Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting cab; Champion Edition already seemed old news at this point. It was sorta fun for the most part, but at this time frame the arcade was secondary compared to his routed games he had at various locations. Besides that Street Fighter, Neo Geo 4 slot was his next best thing... the rest of the games were pretty meh in the arcade. I believe he closed the doors for good a year or two afterwards.

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Yes, we were lucky. The key to keeping the arcade open was selling birthday parties. On slow weeks, the workers would buy a birthday package, get the food court food and cake that goes with it, eat that, and sell all the bulk discounted tokens to get our money spent back. We kept that arcade open any way we could.

The arcade is now gone, but there are still games scattered across town, mostly at movie theaters, that still are part of Aladdin's Castle (They all have the same Namco property tags on them.)

Namco had Cyberstations, but they kept a few of the Aladdin's Castles open then. We had a helluva group of players. Steve/Stephanie Brownback (From NetherRealm Studios) was an up and coming player at that time. Definitely no loose sticks or flaky buttons at our location.

 

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A couple of my favorites stories:

We had a thing were we would challenge cocky players to a fighting game. We would wager shoes vs shoes. (Winner gets other persons pair of shoes they are wearing) Once you would win, you would tell the person they now have to leave the arcade because you have to have shoes and shirt to be in there. (They almost always got their shoes back, BTW)

 

One time a cocky tekken 3 player who was in a wheelchair challenged me to tekken. I used King and beat him using ONLY the figure four leg lock (Which makes a bone breaking sound) I literally beat a crippled guy by doing nothing but break his legs over and over. It got very quiet and very awkward after a few and it became clear what I was doing.

If we really didn't like someone, we would just flick the power to the section of the arcade floor and reset there game. Our circuit breaker box had all the areas marked so we could turn off and on quickly any section of a few games we wanted. Then we would give them a token, say sorry, and pretend like we didn't know what happened.

Related to that, we got Tekken 3 as soon as it came out. We knew the sub characters were time released so we never turned that game off at night. We had all the extra chars first in America. The Cali guys would get with us on mIRC to find out who was next, how to get to them and what moves were new. Don't believe me? Here is the proof:
Tekken 3 - Move List and Guide - PlayStation - By White Lotus - GameFAQs (gamespot.com)

 

I used to feel bad about this stuff, then I heard what they were doing to kids out in California at Golf Land Arcade. 

 

 

Edited by Draxxon

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On 10/8/2021 at 11:06 AM, Draxxon said:

Yes, we were lucky. The key to keeping the arcade open was selling birthday parties. On slow weeks, the workers would buy a birthday package, get the food court food and cake that goes with it, eat that, and sell all the bulk discounted tokens to get our money spent back. We kept that arcade open any way we could.

The arcade is now gone, but there are still games scattered across town, mostly at movie theaters, that still are part of Aladdin's Castle (They all have the same Namco property tags on them.)

Namco had Cyberstations, but they kept a few of the Aladdin's Castles open then. We had a helluva group of players. Steve/Stephanie Brownback (From NetherRealm Studios) was an up and coming player at that time. Definitely no loose sticks or flaky buttons at our location.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

A couple of my favorites stories:

We had a thing were we would challenge cocky players to a fighting game. We would wager shoes vs shoes. (Winner gets other persons pair of shoes they are wearing) Once you would win, you would tell the person they now have to leave the arcade because you have to have shoes and shirt to be in there. (They almost always got their shoes back, BTW)

 

One time a cocky tekken 3 player who was in a wheelchair challenged me to tekken. I used King and beat him using ONLY the figure four leg lock (Which makes a bone breaking sound) I literally beat a crippled guy by doing nothing but break his legs over and over. It got very quiet and very awkward after a few and it became clear what I was doing.

If we really didn't like someone, we would just flick the power to the section of the arcade floor and reset there game. Our circuit breaker box had all the areas marked so we could turn off and on quickly any section of a few games we wanted. Then we would give them a token, say sorry, and pretend like we didn't know what happened.

Related to that, we got Tekken 3 as soon as it came out. We knew the sub characters were time released so we never turned that game off at night. We had all the extra chars first in America. The Cali guys would get with us on mIRC to find out who was next, how to get to them and what moves were new. Don't believe me? Here is the proof:
Tekken 3 - Move List and Guide - PlayStation - By White Lotus - GameFAQs (gamespot.com)

 

I used to feel bad about this stuff, then I heard what they were doing to kids out in California at Golf Land Arcade. 

 

 

When your Aladdin's morphed into Namco, did you guys keep the pinball section? The one I cited above axed their pinball cove, and replaced it with kids redemption games. That's when I noticed redemption games more and more becoming more prevalent.

 

I missed out on the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat wars between players for the most part. Thought I was decent SFII player, but I'd seen some monster Guile players bitd. I do recall when had some serious completion with Atari's 720 with the college area Aladdin's. Showcasing are strats and whatnot, bouncing high scores back and forth - those days were fun.

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We never had a dedicated pinball section. We always had redemption games. Those are the real money makers. Cyclone was almost always the #1 earner. We always had a pinball or two for the most part. They are a pain in the ass to clean and wax and keep working properly.

I played a lot of the big name players at fighting games. Alex Valle is probably the biggest name, in the handful of times we got to play casuals, he has never beaten me. But, it was mostly Tekken3/tag and some SFAII, we never got to play SFII together, I'm pretty sure he has my number on that one.

One of the workers actually kept the neon Bally sign when it was removed. He took it from the trash to his home. Bally was awesome, Namco, not so much. They basically turned all the Aladdin's into Cyberstations and made everyone wear the stupid green vest and a shirt and tie.

Street Fighter II through about Tekken Tag was the best time at our arcade. Pac-Man and high scores sucked at that time, no one cared. Honestly, no one gave a shit if you were good at Galaga, or any one player game, it was all about fighting games. Springfield Aladdin's was very hardcore when it came to fighters. There were many, many nights we played games after close until we opened the next day. People would sleep on skeeball machines. We traveled everywhere to compete and did really well. St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, L.A., you name it. A couple guys moved to California permanently. Well, Dance Dance Revolution and music games eventually came in and killed it. It didnt help that home games were as good as arcade games by the end and they were online. I think if the Arcade scene had more powerful hardware than home and put the arcade games online, they may have lasted a bit longer. Kind of highly opinionated, I know, but that is how I see it.

 

Edited by Draxxon
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On 10/10/2021 at 9:00 AM, schuwalker said:

The one I cited above axed their pinball cove, and replaced it with kids redemption games. That's when I noticed redemption games more and more becoming more prevalent.

hate those things!!! You may have heard what Syzygy said about the Spider Stompin' game, well, that's WHY I hate that game, and I can't believe they are doing this to children! Although there is ONE redemption game I DO like and that is WHEEL DEAL. The MUSIC in that game is GREAT.

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Posted (edited)

I maintained and collected coin-op equipment in several Walmart locations for a couple of years.  It is a sorry state of affairs that they had become the last vestige of arcade style amusements in many cities and towns.  Some stores had small arcades up front, others only had one or more Deer Hunting or similar prop based games.  The best locations had upright cabinets, a pinball or two, kiddie rides, air hockey and basketball, gumball and claw machines.  All that is largely over since Covid19 pretty much killed it.  I don't know if it will ever come back like it was.   I doubt it will.  I am out of it now, but miss the kind of world that still allowed such things to exist.

Edited by RodLightning
typo
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I worked at a nickel arcade for a few months around 2003. $2.50 admission, but all the games took nickels (usually 2, sometimes 4, sometimes 1).

 

It seemed pretty run down, a far cry from the glory days of 1982-1992. Some of the games didn't work at all, but were left on the floor to fill space. I mostly worked concession and redemption.

 

I saved all my earnings, then spent it all when they held an arcade auction. I got a skee ball, bloxeed and some cocktail cabinet ( don't remember the game, nothing exciting).

 

They told me the average return on the ticket games was set to 15%, but a few paid out 30%. They reset the progressive jackpot games on Thursday morning.

 

there were three or four pinballs.

 

Good times.

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I'm hosting a pinball league at one of my locations tonight. Even without that today would've been good, as it's Spring Break in these parts. That said, high gas/cost of everything lately has been hurting business in general. But, I survived the pandemic, after surviving the economic collapse of 2008 and will mark 14 years in business in June.

 

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Will things ever be the same? Not like 1982 or 1992, but arcades will still be around. Sadly redemption is so prominent because it's what the kids (and plenty of adults) dump most of their money into. Pinball by comparison makes very little unless you have very specific location circumstances (bar or a ton of machines and a strong local scene, which I've been fortunate to have lately). Without the tournaments though, pinball just doesn't do well, which is down to a number of factors, one being that a lot of people who are willing to frequently play pinball end up buying their own machines and making friends with likeminded people; Once they have their favorites, there's no reason to go to an arcade business to play one. 

 

Are there new arcades opening up out there? Yep. A lot of them are "FECs" or Family Entertainment Centers, but even in the wake of the pandemic there has been growth of smaller locations here and there, usually bar/arcades.

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On 4/4/2022 at 5:46 PM, RodLightning said:

I maintained and collected coin-op equipment in several Walmart locations for a couple of years.  It is a sorry state of affairs that they had become the last vestige of arcade style amusements in many cities and towns.  Some stores had small arcades up front, others only had one or more Deer Hunting or similar prop based games.  The best locations had upright cabinets, a pinball or two, kiddie rides, air hockey and basketball, gumball and claw machines.  All that is largely over since Covid19 pretty much killed it.  I don't know if it will ever come back like it was.   I doubt it will.  I am out of it now, but miss the kind of world that still allowed such things to exist.

What kiddie rides? I remember a Dino one being at my old job. Since I'm a BIG Hanna-Barbera fan... I made SURE to greet it EVERYTIME I walked into the place!!!!

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Several rides would be rotated in and out every few months.  Thunder horses were always good earners.  The only licensed products I remember were a Sonic race car, Bob the Builder dozer, Sesame St. Big Bird car and a Paddington Bear taxi.  There was a semi truck ride with the Walmart logo in one store that did pretty well.  Most of the others were generic themed, like helicopter and rocket rides.  Stores with more room would have a carousel.

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On 4/7/2022 at 8:13 PM, RodLightning said:

Several rides would be rotated in and out every few months.  Thunder horses were always good earners.  The only licensed products I remember were a Sonic race car, Bob the Builder dozer, Sesame St. Big Bird car and a Paddington Bear taxi.  There was a semi truck ride with the Walmart logo in one store that did pretty well.  Most of the others were generic themed, like helicopter and rocket rides.  Stores with more room would have a carousel.

The Sonic racecar... THAT WAS IN THE USA?!

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I can claim having worked at an arcade, though we didn't really do anything with the machines.  I worked at the Georgia Tech Student Center rec area from 1993 to 1997, which was an arcade, bowling alley and pool hall.  The arcade game upkeep was outsourced to a distributor, so we didn't have keys or any other such fun stuff.  But we did have complete control over the PA system and music, which was a valuable thing.

 

We had some interesting machines come through during my tenure, including preproduction tables of the Street Fighter 2 pinball game, and the early versions of Mortal Kombat II with all the fun bugs like uppercutting babies.

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