THE SAD HISTORY OF MANY LOCAL ARCADES THAT WERE TRANSFORMED INTO PLACES AND BETS

 

If you grew up in a popular neighborhood in Mexico, surely the meaning of going to the tortillas or to the store is totally different for you, since each outing implied a compulsory visit to the arcades, popularly known as ‘little machines’.

It was completely normal to take advantage of the change for one or two challenges of Street Fighter, The King of Fighters, Marvel vs. Capcom and even titles like The Simpsons or The Ninja Turtles, which were also popular.

With the passage of time all the arcade venues changed, some disappeared and many others tried to adapt to the new times.

This time I want to take this space to talk to you about what happened in my neighborhood, where many of the slot machines ended up practically becoming gambling houses, and surely something similar happened where you live.

THE GOLDEN AGE

In the early 90’s, when I was a little boy eager to see the world, my dad used to take me to arcade locations that existed near where I live. At that time they were plentiful and I remember there were even three for every store in the area.

Surely those born after the year 2000 did not experience it as much, but there were places dedicated purely and exclusively to the machines, so they were meeting points where they even sold snacks and drinks.

On average, each store had 7 or 8 machines with games for all tastes and ages, although one genre always stood out.


Impossible to forget the businesses dedicated to arcades.
At that time the offer was very large, but the classic fighting games were the most popular and there was a whole ritual to play: You bought your chips and if you wanted to play you had to form them at the bottom of the screen.

As in any competitive title, inevitably the emotions would explode, so the fights were very normal, at least in my neighborhood, where each visit included a front row entry to see clean-hitting duels and even belt bumps.


Sure you lived this in your childhood, and it was the best.
For this reason, many neighbors believed that only the ‘marijuana’ and drunks met in these places, and as a precaution, I limited myself to the famous multigame machines where I could enjoy Mario, Double Dragon and the odd game of planes.

I experienced this rise of arcades between 1994 and 1998, when the model of large arcade venues began to decline.

THE DECADENCE OF THE ARCADES

Between 1999 and 2002 a transformation began in these places of entertainment, where they first reduced the number of machines to focus on the sale of other products, until at a certain point they closed.

Of four arcade stores located in my neighborhood, only one survived, and in this the owners made more money from the sale of ice cream than from the use of video games, at least until they found an option that left more profits.

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From 2000 to 2006 the arcades went from being meeting places to becoming accessories that you could find in stores and pharmacies, so you could usually see one or two maximum, almost always with the famous ‘Tekino faiters’, as my friends used to call it. .

In this period of time, the famous slot machines began to arrive in the neighborhood, where you put between one and five pesos to have the opportunity to see your money multiplied.

The most popular of all showed you a painting with fruits that were covered by a light, and gave you the possibility to choose which of them would be selected.

It wasn’t exactly the same as this one, but it looks similar.
When the first of these machines reached the last arcade venue that had survived, it was a success, and again I saw long lines that used to be made to play a KoF, Marvel Vs. Capcom or Street Fighter challenge.

By showing that it generated much more profit, the owners began to replace the machines with slot machines, and I remember perfectly the order in which they were disappearing.

The first was The Simpsons, then followed by The Ninja Turtles, then Marvel vs. Capcom and finally Street Fighter. The only one that survived was The King of Fighters, and that’s because there were still some players who enjoyed the challenges.

FROM ARCADES TO BETTING SITES

Little by little the slot machines displaced the arcades, and it was here that something peculiar happened, since some of the places where I played as a child reopened, although with a look more similar to a casino.


The old arcade stores were turned into small casinos.
As I mentioned a moment ago, fashion began with the famous furniture where you selected fruits, but soon the offer expanded and more offers with football themes began to appear, basquetball and even reggaeton.

If my memory serves me correctly, these venues did not last long with this format, since between 2004 and 2006 laws were implemented that prohibited slot machines.

Again the premises closed again, but the remaining machines became part of stores and pharmacies, where apparently it was allowed to have them.

SLOTS STILL LIVE, THE ARCADES DOESN’T

At this point the arcades in my neighborhood were totally extinct, and although a Recorcholis tried to bring the experience back, it ended up going bankrupt due to the low attendance of clients, who preferred to stay at home with their own consoles.


Many left arcades when they got their own video game console.
Shortly before the pandemic, I took a tour to see how many video game machines were left, and unfortunately I could not find one, although if we talk about slot machines, things are different.

Currently there are three stores dedicated to this area, where alcohol is also sold and people get together to play ‘Poliana’, dominoes and even cards.

No trace remains of the arcade venues, but neither of my childhood friends, with whom on more than one occasion I spent fun afternoons after soccer challenges or a hard day at school.

Tell us what happened to the arcades in your neighborhood.

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