Sizzling Summer Special – Traveling Tightwad

Summer Travels? Check out an arcade!

Hey Everyone! I must apologize for the lapse in content over the past months. Other aspects of life seemed to catch up with me and work and other projects outside of Tightwad Gamer took precedent. So, without a moment’s notice, I wanted to share with you part one of a summer-themed article I’ve had on my mind for a while. The first covers some gaming-related venues you should visit during your summer travels. The second article, published soon after, will center around great handheld games you can indulge during your journey.

Summertime trips often come with a final destination in mind. Yellowstone National Park. San Francisco. Denver. Boston. New York. Regardless of your destination, you may have a few stops along the way. Why not make a local arcade one of them? For me, arcades were the beginning moments of the hobby. Arcade trips as a kid were exciting, and is fun to look back on those warm memories. However, arcades aren’t a relic of the past; though video games have changed drastically, arcades have popped up in a lot of major cities (and others never left!). Visiting an arcade allows you to explore or re-experience wonderful gaming history, supports a local business, and is an enjoyable social experience that deserves to be an excursion during your journey. Finally, it also doesn’t break your vacation budget. Need some further convincing? Read on!

Reason 1: Affordable, charming fun.

Arcades are often a great venue for gamers of all ages. Whether it’s giving the kids (and yourselves) a break from the drive, or allowing the parents to hop on a favorite arcade cabinet from their childhood, an arcade can be a cheap part of your day out or a pit stop along the way. Depending on what your price range is, arcades usually have two different pricing models: an admission fee (machines on free-play) or coin-operated, either by token or quarters. Some also offer food and special packages that combine food and games in one price. Soon after, you can jump into the excitement of different sights, sounds, and feels of arcade games. These machines are usually well maintained and locally owned and operated. You’re likely to get an afternoon of enjoyable gaming and some good memories over the shared experience. Finally, it won’t be the same level of expense that buying a new game for your home console.

Reason 2: Exploring gaming genres

Arcade games come in all types of exciting varieties, each posing a unique challenge. Be it shooters, beat-em ups, puzzle games, or racing, you can dabble in a lot of different video games. The novelty of sitting down and racing a group of friends or family members in Daytona (DAAAYYYTONNNAAA!) USA on a linked cabinet comes to mind. Experiencing the six-person X-Men cabinet (though unforgiving if you’re playing with quarters) is certainly an awesome experience, too. Maybe it’s a winner-stays tournament of Capcom vs. SNK, Street Fighter, or Tekken. Your trip to the arcade can be a time to jump into a new gaming experience or a time to rekindle a love for a favorite game. I was able to play a Sega Astro City cabinet during my wife and I’s honeymoon, something I’ll always remember. You’ll be sure to find something that will surprise you.

Reason 3: Bond over video game history

As the next generation of kids settles into gaming as a hobby, it can be a great time to experience the history of gaming. After all, arcades represent a golden age of gaming, prior to the popularity of home consoles. There’s something timeless and enjoyable about playing Galaga with my Dad. Likewise, letting your kids experience gaming the way you remember it can be a fun way to enjoy gaming together. Whether it’s your favorite Ninja Turtles stopping Shredder and the Foot Clan, Jumpman (not Mario) saving Pauline from Donkey Kong, or the timeless challenge of avoiding Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde, a trip to the Arcade is a great way to immerse yourself and the little ones over the rich history of video games.

Bonus Stage: Barcade.

A novelty that’s popped up in the past decade or so is the phenomenon known as a Barcade. If you like a social environment that lets you play awesome games and sample the local brews of the area, a Barcade can’t be beat. I love Barcades. I’ve played (and trash talked) during a NBA Jam tournament at my bachelor party. I’ve relaxed and played Ms. Pac Man over a nice summer ale. I like the social environment that also allows me to kick back, enjoy some games and a nice cold beer. A positive is the machines almost always have cup holders or drink tables near the cabinets, so there’s less risk to the machines in the event of a spill. And it’s always worth saying, please remember to drink responsibly!


Wherever your travels (or stay-cation) may lead you, I hope you consider dropping into an arcade in the near future. Check out Yelp or do a friendly internet search for arcades in the area prior to your trip. Hours, admission/prices, and a list of games are usually listed. I’ve also had good experiences contacting the business owners via Facebook if I have any questions. Shout out to the The Coin Slot in Traverse City, Michigan, for giving me the inspiration to write this article shortly after a family vacation of our own. Thanks for reading and safe travels!


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