The ‘Golden Age of Arcade Gaming’ Visits Union Station
The Retrocade Experience returned for the second year in a row at Union Station’s ticketing concourse in Downtown Los Angeles for the weekend of Sept. 28 to 29.
Retrocade Experience is an event that allows visitors to play a classic collection of over 50 arcade games and specialty pinball cabinets including many fan favorites such as “Mortal Kombat,” “Pac Man,” “Asteroids,” and “Centipede.” Last year’s event had only about 40 arcade games available.
Gamers purchased access to play two hours’ worth of games for $5. The best feature was that all the arcade games were set to “free play” so there was no need to bring bags of quarters.
According to officials, this year’s event expected over 2,500 visitors daily. This number is slightly higher than last year's totals of 2,400 visitors.
For more serious gamers, there were daily Pac-Man tournaments where players competed for the highest scores, with the winner earning a Pac-Man inspired trophy as their prize.
Along with the arcade games, there were retro tracks from the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s filling the room with that arcade ambience, so the “Pokemon” battle themes and the theme to “Mortal Kombat” made a few appearances.
Visitors and arcade enthusiasts, like Sarah Giorgione, reminisced about how arcade games were a huge part of their lives.
“I loved playing these games as a kid," said Giogione. "We had about 3 to 4 arcades where I grew up. I grew up in England. It was the place to hang out. I saw the ‘Popeye’ game and that's the one that I haven’t seen in years and I had forgotten it existed. It was great being able to play that once again.”
Throughout the day, the sounds of button-mashing and pinballs crashing back and forth filled the historic train station. While attendees may have differed in age, one thing remained the same: the love of old arcade games.
Continuing on with the theme of traditional arcade energy, vintage snacks such as nachos, churros and refreshments were available for purchase. For older gamers, arcade-themed cocktails were on sale at the site.
Stephanie Goodell, a spokesperson for Break White Light – the company that did the marketing for Retrocade Experience – discussed the importance of bringing arcade games to a newer generation of gamers.
“The thing about gaming now, it’s kind of a solitary experience right, everybody does it from their consoles in their living room and so this concept of an arcade where you can kind of share this experience with other people, people sort of really seem to enjoy," said Goodell.
Goodell added that Union Station was the perfect venue to hold Retrocade because it brings a diverse group of people “from families to [the] young urban, you know, downtown dwellers.”
Whether one was jumping over barrels being thrown from a giant ape or running from colorful ghost while munching on white dots, the Retrocade Experience was a nostalgic-filled time for the older and newer generation of arcade gamers alike.
Animation by Tanya Azari