35mm · Film photography · Photography

Arcades, invaders, and zines

A couple of pictures to continue the seaside theme today, albeit with nary a grain of sand, nor a splash of salt-water in sight. Both these were made in that other stalwart of the seaside resort – the arcade. This one has been open as long as I can remeber (it’s definitely older than me), although it’s changed considerably since what was (to me and my own personal nostalgia, at least) its heyday.

Back then it was full of bleeping, blooping video games. At first the older titles like Space Invaders, Asteroids, Night Driver and such, but later expanding significantly as the craze for such games grew and grew. A few years later it was possible for show-offs to display theit skills on the Don Bluth animated laser-disc games like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, the huge cabinets given pride of place next to the street to draw the crowds.

This arcade is a sizeable place and it used to have some full-sized fairground rides within. A ladybird ride for the younger customers was near the ntrance, but a set of dodgems awaited the bigger kids right at the back of the place. Along one wall were a series of fairground stalls in the form of coconut shies, shooting ranges, ball games, and – perhaps most memorably – a place where you could make artwork by squirting plashes of colourful paint onto a sheet of paper that would then be spun at high velocity on a turntable to create amazing, psychadelic works of art. I remember with fondness the smell of the lacquer that would be applied to hold the image in place, and also the disappointment you’d get when it turned out that some of the paint had stuck to the inside of the card cover, ruining it when you later opened it.

Wheel of Fortune ega win

I still love visiting Mablethorpe, and suspect I will for as long as I live, such were the happy memories formed there when I was a child, but each time I go I also feel a certain disappointment that things are not as I remember them in my youth, that the bleeps and bllops of the arcade games of old are mostly gone, the old stand-up cabinets replaced by larger “event” machines offering experiences that cannot be had on home consoles. Much of the floor space is now given over to fruit-machines and devices that let you win lengthy strings of tokens to be exchanged for prizes. It’s not the same as it was. But then, not many things are. Sometimes you really want a time-machine though…

Anyway, one of today’s images shows a couple of retro-games. Not the originals, but still enough to bring a smile to my face when I saw them.

In other news, my zines arrived today! This is the first time (other than the odd print) that I’ve ever had my photos published in physical form. The zines were made ostensibly for me to take part in a zine-swap with a group of other photographers, but I’ve got a whole bunch of them – it was the same price to get twenty-five copies as it was to get ten, so I went for the maximum. I can hopefully use the spares for other zine swapsies (plus I’ve already promised copies to a few people). I’m very happy with the quality of the materials and the reproduction of the photographs – I decided to go with a heavier weight 150GSM paper for the pages, with a 170GSM soft-touch laminated cover and it has a very nice feel to it. There are a few things for me to take away for the next time, but for my first go I’m more than happy.

Modern retro
Not the originals, but still nice to see the old alien foes in their natuaral environment.

Canon Sure Shot Z135, Kodak Gold 200. Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 11 September 2020

3 thoughts on “Arcades, invaders, and zines

  1. I’m glad you decided to write about and post these photos of the arcade. I, too, long for the good old days of the *real* arcade, with all those classic cabinets sporting gorgeous, analog CRT’s (especially the vector graphics ones) and groups of friends hanging out for hours on end, dumping quarters incessantly trying to beat their buddy’s high score. However, I’d say you’re just lucky you still have an arcade nearby of any type. There’s nothing left anywhere close to me. It’s a shame. The even bigger shame is that kids today have no idea what they’re missing. In fact, most don’t even have a concept of what’s real at all anymore, on any front, as their whole lives are lived vicariously through false, digital platforms. It’s just sad.

    And again, these images are great!

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    1. I really miss the arcades of old. I think the manufacturers and developers took a wrong turn when home consoles got to the state where they could largely match the arcade cabinets. They decided to go all out with big cabs and event-type games and stopped producing the other, simpler titles. It meant that, whereas you used to be able to take a pocketful of change and play a bunch of games, now the games were far more expensive to play (for the same amount of play-time mostly) so your money didn’t stretch so far. I used to take a couple of pounds, cash it into 10p coins, and get twenty games out of it, sometimes on one machine, but usually enjoying a variety of different titles. Getting just a couple of games for the same outlay, no matter how fancy the cabinets might be, was a disappointment. It was also much easier to chance a 10p on a machine you’d never played before, whereas sticking a pound in was a bigger risk.

      Based on my own thoughts, I feel that videogame fans would still have been more than happy to play cheaper, less fancy games in an arcade setting, even if they could play the same thing at home. Being in that environment made all the difference. I still think they would even now.

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