Like so many of these places in Vancouver, I googled the Movieland Arcade to see if it was still around. To my surprise it was… until about a week or so ago, when it quietly closed to little fanfare.
According to an article, the arcade had been around for 40 years, well pre-dating my time in Vancouver and the gentrification of Granville Street itself. I love arcades, and there were a few on Granville Street, but nothing quite like this one. This one wasn’t littered with LAN machines, and I don’t think there was a game in there that was made after 1994 (that date being primarily based off the fact they had the 1994 Jurassic Park arcade game that you sat in with a friend and shot dinosaurs). Most notably it had 8mm porno booths in the back, which is what designated the whole building 18+ despite the innocuous games in the front. It also had an absolutely hilarious video strip poker machine, wherein a lady on a video would disrobe if you won a hand (I’m guessing late 70s or early 80s based on the hairstyle I remember her having).
It was also one of the first places where my husband and I went when we first met many years ago, so above and beyond even the coolness of a weird arcade with porno in the back, it holds a special place in my heart for that.
I love arcades, and they are not really a thing anymore. I don’t count the Rec Room as an arcade, or any of the beer and arcade places. Those places are a vehicle for drinking; they’re bars with machines in them. An arcade is a place you went to because that was the point – rows and rows of machines to endlessly sink quarters into. No need for drinking or nachos, the fun was there in the games, and being with friends.
Most people have watched Stranger Things, and of course season 3 had several scenes in a busy, active arcade. I wonder sometimes how absolutely alien that idea must be to people even just slightly younger than I am.