A memorial for the UK's coastal arcades
They're not dead, they're resting.
If you follow my YouTube, then you'll know that I've been working on a series called Disappearing Southend -- essentially a bunch of videos all about my hometown and the many entertaining things that used to be there, with arcades being a main focus (naturally -- it's a gaming channel, after all). And at last, the first video is here for everyone to see and as usual, can be watched just below.
As much as we all go nuts for current arcades that cater to people like us, the memories of being in arcades growing up are always going to be strong -- especially if, like me, you grew up in a seaside town that had a strip absolutely chock full of them. All of the games that were captured for this video were there, and then some -- growing up in Southend in the '90s was pretty freaking awesome in many ways with all of these games virtually on my doorstep, and it's no wonder I turned out the way I did with all that surrounding me.
But of course, things change -- many theories have been posited for the death of the arcades of course, and it's perhaps a bit more complex than the PlayStation bringing arcade experiences home or whatever. Some have pointed to the cost of creating arcade games -- as with home games -- going up exponentially thanks to 3D, and the cost of the arcade going up with it...games that were once 10 or 20p a pop suddenly became £1, or even £2...was it too much? Was it an unsalvageable business model? There's a whole group of loosely connected reasons for the exit of games, and the entry of nought but endless fruit machines, claw games and penny falls.
Since releasing this video, it's also become clear to me that Southend is hardly alone -- many have told similar stories of other coastal towns over here, whether it's Blackpool, Redcar, Yarmouth, Rhyl...it's common. The degradation and, at times, deprivation is very real -- they may not all feature run-down council estates that once used to be theme parks, but it's still tough out there. Some towns such as Brighton have ridden the storm somewhat, but they've had to find alternate ways of thriving -- and Southend seems to still be waiting to find this same. This series is all about that struggle -- and as videos from the coastal town come out intermittently, I hope you continue to enjoy them.