Thursday, January 17, 2013

I need an Upland reporter, preferably young, to investigate a non-corpse

Dan Seifert shared a long-ish Laura June article in The Verge entitled For Amusement Only: the life and death of the American arcade. It's an extensively researched article that not only discusses the one-decade heyday of the video games arcade, but the long history before and after that decade, ranging from the years of Prohibition to the present day.

For my purposes, I will reproduce a very small excerpt from the article:

Arcades in the late 1970s and early 1980s held a particular place in the American way of life. Like shopping malls and roller skating rinks, they were safe, isolated areas where kids and teenagers could hang out, and, with a reasonable amount of money, spend hours without their parents. Bill Disney, a pinball enthusiast and owner of The Pinball Gallery in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, says of his younger years that "most parents, they basically didn’t know what their kids were doing any time of the day. They were on their bikes, out the whole day," and "they didn’t care where they were." This laid-back attitude varied by family, as well as by geography, but the relative autonomy of older children in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and early 1980s, was much greater than it would be moving into the ‘90s. Films of the early ‘80s such as E.T. and The Wizard show typical, American kids, left to their own devices, playing video games and capturing aliens with their friends while their parents are at work.

But the major thesis of the article can be summed up in the title: arcades in this form are now dead. Laura June defines the classic video arcade as a dark place, inhabited by young people, that only has video games. No food or drink, except perhaps for a stray vending machine. And by using this definition, most of the classic video arcades ARE dead.

But I suspect there may be at least one that is still standing. But, due to the "inhabited by young people" thing, I'll need someone to check this out for me.

In Upland, California, just east of Upland High School, there is a long-standing establishment called James Games. Despite the fact that I actually know James (who sold the business long ago), I have never set foot in the place, despite the fact that I lived within a quarter mile away from it in the mid 1980s, and that I literally lived down the street from it in the mid 1990s.

If someone is ready to take on the glory that is involved with being an official Empoprises correspondent, could someone venture in to James Games and let us know if it's still a video arcade place in the traditional sense?

If you know something about the 2013 version of James Games, you can post your comments here on this blog post, or you can write your own blog post in your own blog and let me know about it, or you can send me an email. I have a Gmail account under the name "empoprises."

In the meantime, here's the Yelp page for James Games:

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