As people get older, nostalgia tends to creep up on many of them, thus attempting to vividly remember what it is that they did when they were younger. Most of the vivid recollections are in the categories of fun and other happy occasions. This includes the many various forms of entertainment available to them and their particular generations, be it drive-in movies, mini-golf courses, soda shops, or arcades.
My generation is now old enough to be grandparents (lucky for me, I’m not a grandfather at the moment, LOL). For most of us, video arcades were a primary outlet for fun. That’s not to say that arcades in general are specific to the early Gen X crowd, but the sudden advancements and transition to electronics in video game technology during the late 70’s and early 80’s sparked a pop culture craze which helped define a generation.
As we start tripping through our bouts of nostalgia, we find it difficult to explain to our kids (and grandkids) what we did for fun. Many times, we find our progeny getting bored or dismissive with our “storytelling” about days gone by. Usually, we are unable to adequately hold their attention in these matters, especially if we are unable to directly expose them to the particular item(s) and environment conducive to enabling them to get a real feel for the way it was. For example, how many of us are able to demonstrate the experience of “flipping a record”, only to be ridiculed as old fashioned when we try to explain what fun it was to listen to music on vinyl, as opposed to the current generation’s ready access to MP3 files.
While I cannot offer any immediate solutions to demonstrating record player technology to your kids, other than suggesting that you try to find a record player of your own, I can suggest one place to share the experience of “going to the arcade.” A place which is, by design, meant to invoke fun for all ages, yet teach the younger generation about an era of fun from the past. That place would be the Timeline Arcade in the North Hanover Mall, Hanover, PA.
At Timeline Arcade, you can experience nearly five decades worth of arcade gaming from the older electromechanical pinball games, to pinball machines with digital displays, classic video games such as Ms. Pacman and Centipede, along with skill machines like basketball hoops and shuffleboard bowling. There is something for all ages in this arcade. Each machine has a sticker on it indicating which decade it is from (60’s, 70’s, 80’s, etc.). As of this writing, over 70 games are present in the arcade.
There is one aspect of arcade gaming which is missing, though. That is the experience of placing your quarters on the marquee like we used to do to “reserve our turn.” That’s because entrance into the arcade is based on a timed admission price. I have mixed feelings about not using quarters to play, you know, to experience all aspects of classic arcade gaming in their entirety. But from a business standpoint, and as it relates to the overall value for the consumer, I understand the implementation of a card access system to play the games. While a handful of games are set on free play, including a couple machines at the arcade entrance, most games work by using a “swipe card.” You buy your card in specific increments of time and play as many games as you like within the allotted time.
Currently, the time increments are as follows:
- 1/2 hour – $5
- 1 hour – $8
- 2 hours -$12
- all day play – $20
I personally found the pricing to be rather reasonable. It’s a nice way of planning time out for yourself or with your (grand)kids, instead of wondering if you’ll have enough quarters left to pass the time. Your card gets loaded up with the amount of time purchased and you simply swipe, play, lose three lives on the game :P, and swipe again on the next game. If you want to do some shopping, give your kids money to top off their swipe card (which you get to keep) and know that you have at least “that much time” before they run back to you asking for more money to play! LOL
Amongst the available games (which I’m trying to remember completely) are a couple classic electromechanical pinball machines, like Gottlieb’s 300, and a baseball game whose name I cannot recall. One of my favorite electronic pinball machines, Meteor, was there also.
Representing classic arcade gaming were titles such as Ms. Pacman, Tron, Q*Bert, Star Wars, Centipede, Space Duel, and Star Castle. Those games are from MY generation of arcade gaming, so please bear with me if I seem quite partial to the likes of them over the other games at Timeline Arcade. Then again, to each his own, right? There is even a “Multi-cade” system which allows you to pick from a number of classic games, all playable in the same machine. This allows Timeline to offer more games than what is possible given the available floor space.
Usually when I go to Timeline Arcade, it’s mainly for about an hour, and I usually have my Son along with me. So generally, I end up recharging each of our swipe cards for $8 a piece. You’d be surprised at how many games you can play in an hour. Sometimes I find myself getting my “fix” from my favorite games during a visit and then discovering I have plenty of time left over, so I’ll find a game I haven’t played before and give it a try. Who knows… maybe I’ll discover how much I like that game. I don’t worry about the games becoming “stagnant” after a while, either. The owner, Brandon, rotates game inventory on occasion in order to keep the selection “fresh.” So in the same sense, I consider my visits a good value for my money.
But sometimes, I like to take advantage of special events which take place.
During special events, like the recent 24 hr. Black Friday event I attended, Timeline Arcade offered the same “all day” play for $20 for the entire 24 hours!!! Normal all day play is restricted to the daily mall hours (usually less than 12 hours). So how many games can you play in 24 hours? ALL OF THEM… and then some more!!! What does the “more” part consist of? In this case, Timeline Arcade had (and still has) a Nintendo Wii U setup for you to try out. During special events, there will be elimination contests on such gaming systems, with PRIZES!!
Ever since this past Black Friday, for those who have time left on their cards during their visit, you can always crash on the couch, grab a joystick, and play an Atari 2600 in a neoclassical 70’s living room setup, complete with a color console TV!
But wait… there’s MORE!!!
Do you have any kids who are celebrating birthdays? If so, you can also plan to have that birthday party at Timeline Arcade. There are several birthday party packages available for reasonable prices, depending on the need for “party bags” containing a variety of birthday swag. I had my Son’s last birthday party at Timeline, and I must say, I was pleased with the service. The base price of the party covers seven guests, with an added charge for each additional guest. Included in that price is pizza and soda, a reserved party room, party paper products, and a two hour swipe card for each guest to use on the arcade floor. You must bring your own cake and presents.
All in all, I enjoy having Timeline Arcade so close to where I live. And by close, I mean a 30 minute drive away, which isn’t very far considering the limited amount of arcades available in a 100 mile radius of home. Arcades are a dying breed and places like Timeline Arcade should continue to be patronized for their effort in keeping such venues alive.
To find out more about Timeline Arcade, go to their website at: http://timelinearcade.com