A Novel About the Time All the Space Invaders Machines Went Away

If you remember the heyday of giant arcade halls filled with stand-up coin-op machines, then you’ll also remember that one day they seemingly all disappeared. What was it like to live through that bygone era? The Final Day at Westfield Arcade—a new novel by Andy Hunt—explores what it felt like to have a digital childhood evaporate as its main character tries to jump to adulthood.

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Many of the strong memories we have about certain games has to do with what we were doing in our lives when we encountered them. If you first played Pac-Man when your parents divorced, all that ghost-gobbling might mean something a little different. Here’s a synopsis and you can read the opening pages from The Final Day at Westfield Arcade in the preview below:

It’s the final day of business at Westfield Arcade, the video game arcade where middle-aged Mike Mayberry has worked since he was a teenager. Mike spends his final day at Westfield Arcade taking a nostalgia-fueled journey back through the arcade’s glory years of the 1980s, the era when Pac Man ruled the world and every night at the arcade was an adventure. He reflects on the endless memories and friends he’s made during the decades he’s spent at the arcade, and chronicles the ups and downs in his relationship with an unforgettable girl over those years. As the final day of business at his beloved video game arcade comes to an emotional end, Mike contemplates a major decision for his post-arcade life, a decision that he hopes will once and for all answer the question of whether the girl who got away so many years ago truly did get away for good.

Westfield Arcade Sample Pages by Andy Hunt

DISCUSSION

bakamoichigei
Bakamoichigei

I was watching '100 yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience' and I paused it in the middle of the whole Space Invaders thing before going and getting something to eat, and I jokingly commented on IRC that if it didn't mention my favorite piece of arcade videogame trivia, I was so dropping it...

That piece of trivia being that Japan had to mint more 100 yen coins to keep up with demand created by Space Invaders... (And they still failed.)

Sure enough when I got back to the computer with my sandwich and un-paused the video, it was one of the very next things they mentioned!

I'm still thoroughly gutted that I couldn't come up with the money to donate to their fundraiser at the time, and get my name in the credits. :(

Point of interest: In America, part of the death of arcades was players' resistance to raising the price on ordinary games above $0.50/play... Making it hard for operators to cover their costs. But in Japan, it's ALWAYS been 100yen/play, even when we were paying a quarter a credit. Food for thought.