Quarters: Bringing Adults back to Childhood

What better post is there for a throwback Thursday then a post about my recent trip to Quarters. As a note, I wanted to say that because of a broken phone my written observations were prioritized over my photographic ones. Thus, many of my pictures will be gathered off of the internet. The first thing I noticed about Quarters was that it was in a building shared with a tattoo parlor. I immediately stopped for a second to consider how strange the contrast between the more adult space that a tattoo parlor was and the more childlike space that I thought the arcade would be. I was wrong about my first observation. Upon entering, the bar immediately drew my attention and no, it’s not because I was rushing over looking to buy a drink. The bar in opposition to all the arcade games and the mix of children and adults was the opposite of what I was expecting.

What I was expecting when I found out about our arcade field trip.

What I got instead of my expectations.

The lack of age bias was at first stunning, but later refreshing. I enjoyed observing the difference between the adults interacting with the environment and the children. The children kneeled on the bar seats, leaning on the bar, eagerly ordering fries and chicken tenders. They received their order and happily sat at the bar. It seemed as if because they were deprived of the bar experience, they preferred it to the tables. Almost every child sat at the bar if there was room.

The adults were different. They ordered their drink casually and headed to a table. A bit into their drink, the majority that I observed began to walk around and observe other games. Although the difference may stem from the convenience of carrying around a drink versus food, I truly believe that because of the lack of age bias the different age groups enjoyed acting like whatever they were not.

I also noticed that the adults (that were not there courtesy of VG&N) were a lot more likely to be playing solo, where as the kids were often playing together or at least watching each other play. I had a hard time coming to a conclusion about this observation, but I’d say that perhaps the children who aren’t there for the nostalgia aren’t thinking as deeply about the games they are playing. The adults who played seemed to be there more for the nostalgia, than the gaming. What makes me think this is that while the kids just hop on a game, the adults walked around looking for games that they recognized.

When I was playing Gauntlet with Cody and he went to get more quarters an older adult man stopped me to say that when he played Gauntlet when he was younger, you couldn’t just continue when you died by putting in more quarters. You had to restart. His tone was a bit cocky, but not condescending. I asked if he wanted to play and he quickly denied showing that his enjoyment came from reminiscing, rather than actually playing.

Shot of Gauntlet gameplay

Though I learned a lot from my observations in my time watching the bar, there were certain things I couldn’t figure from my observations about gaming. Did the children understand the “throwback” aspect of this gaming? How did the adults feel about the shared space? Were the adults drawn here by a childhood of gaming or were there many never before gamers? What do you guys think?

One thought on “Quarters: Bringing Adults back to Childhood

  1. I personally felt a lot of nostalgia at the sight of those games. Back when I originally played them, I was about the same age as some of those small children playing beside me, which only served to solidify the reminiscence. I was occasionally taken out of my little nostalgic moment by side commentary about how outdated some of the games were. Sadly, a lot that commentary popped up in my own mind. It created this odd mental dichotomy in which I was both transfixed by the desire to “beat the game” and annoyed by the simple graphics and jittery controls. It felt like two different people playing the exact same game.

Leave a Reply