The old saying goes that kids today don’t appreciate what they’ve got. Every generation says it, but when it comes to video arcades, kids today don’t know what they’re missing.
The Lost Arcade is a documentary about the New York arcade scene, focusing on Chinatown Fair, which was the last remaining place of its kind. Most documentaries would look at the rich history of the arcades around the world, concentrating on the games, the locations and why the industry collapsed. By mainly sticking to one particular arcade and its imminent closure, The Lost Arcade provides us with a fascinating microcosm of all of that. Best of all, we get to know the people, the characters and the players themselves. We get to see the owners – refreshingly not in it just for a quick profit, although a profit was there for the taking – and staff, some of which were rescued from a life on the streets by working in the arcades.
You can really appreciate just how deeply the lifestyle affected these people, just how profoundly ingrained their lives were by a joystick and some buttons on a wooden or plastic stand up cabinet.
With the decline of the arcades from the mid-80s due to consoles becoming readily available in homes around the world, this is a snapshot into a time where, if you were good enough, you could spend hours playing with nothing but a few quarters (or 10p pieces to us Brits). It shows that a whole movement of people were so involved that the scene still has a strong core following that has learned to move with the times, taking tournaments online, streamed live from a new store in New York that is run by one of the guys who originally spent so much time in the original Chinatown Fair. We even get to see that original arcade reopened with a new owner, but does he completely understand what that old hangout really stood for or is he just after an easy profit.
In an age where children are found sitting in front of a screen at home more often than not, this shows that there was a more innocent time where communities were built around an 8-bit screen and a desire to hold the high score on whatever game was available.
A nostalgic treat.
THE LOST ARCADE / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: KURT VINCENT / WRITER: IRENE CHIN / STARRING: JASON SCOTT SADOFSKY / RELEASE DATE: TBC