06 August 2009

A Visit to Video Gameland

Video Gameland.

Sounds like a throwback to the 1980s. Certainly the sign outside this narrow den of hyperactivity on Mott Street in Chinatown looks to be from about that era.

There's nothing dusty, however, about the scene inside the L-shaped space. Literally, about 100 machines of various types. Dozens of serious-faced teens, in line for machines, checking out each other's performances, huddled around hot games. It reminded me of the atmosphere inside an old-style pool hall or in a back-room power game. No talking, no smiling: we're here to play.

Though innocent, the place somehow felt illicit. Low ceilings, red brick walls, exposed pipes, tiny faux Tiffany lamps hanging from the ceiling, a supervisor of some sort crouched inside a wooden shed in the corner. If you crossed an opium den with a Coney Island arcade, it might look like this.

Used to be the Canton Chop Suey restaurant some decades back.


Carol Gardens said...

Is this the place that used to have the Tic Tac Toe chicken?

Anonymous said...

Chinatown Fair used to be across the street from its present location, I remember they had a merry go-round and a photo booth, and ski-ball.
In the back there was a "dragon" in a pit, and you'd have to put in a quarter so the sliding door would open and allow you to peer "down into the pit" - where the dragon would roar. I used to wonder how they got that huge dragon all the way down there!
And yeah, they had that tic-tac-toe chicken, which to this day, people still as for.