We bring people together by providing a place to connect through a multigenerational video gaming experience.
The Arcade92 STORY
“You never know when memories are being made”
- John Lepsch
My family's journey began half way across the country when we moved from Rochester, New York to our new home in Tulsa, Oklahoma in our 1985 Chevrolet station-wagon which we all affectionately refered to as the “Cheese Wagon”. I still can not explain why a car company would make a car color that shade of yellow but nevertheless, the Cheese Wagon was our family treasure. My father masterfully solved the problem of the check engine light always being on by precision cutting a piece of black tape to cover the warning light on the dashboard. Once getting settled into our new apartment, we had a Circle K gas station nearby that we would frequent. One day, on a mundane trip to that gas station in 1987, my father grabbed some change out of his pocket and told me to go find a snack while he filled up that beast of a gas guzzler. As I walked into the gas station I could see in the back of the store, an orange arcade cabinet with the word Nintendo on the side. At 7 years old I had never seen an arcade cabinet before nor had I played a video game. As I got closer, I was drawn in by the glow of the old CRT monitor and the marquee, Super Mario Bros. Rather than a snack, I popped a quarter in that machine to see what this game all about.
On the way back home, it was all I could think about. I could remember where the mushroom was, where the firepower was, that green pipe that I accidentally found that would take you underground, and where that flashy star was that allows you to rush through all those enemies. I had to get back to that gas station and more importantly, I needed quarters. I needed lots of quarters. After securing some funding by searching couch cushions and junk drawers, I scaled the tall retaining wall behind our apartment complex. Now came the tricky part. I needed to get across several lanes of Tulsa traffic to make it to the gas station. After playing real life frogger, I made it and my mission to save the princess was in full swing.
It did not take long for my parents to find out and to put an end to my death defying stunts to get to the gas station. That said, my parents were always supportive and while it wasn’t really in the budget to get the home version of Super Mario Bros on the newly released Nintendo Entertainment System, my parents had a friend that had an Atari 2600 from 1983 with a bag full of games. When I opened the bag, it was full of Atari games like Defender, Space Invaders, Pitfall, Combat, Circus Circus, Haunted House and so many more. Dozens of games were at my finger tips and my undying mission to save Princess Peach from Bowsers Castle would be put on hold. I had no idea that just a few years before my discovery of video games that there was a golden age of the arcades from 1979 to 1983. I was only 4 years old when the great video game industry collapsed but now with this Atari 2600, I could catch up on all that I missed.
What can be so easily overlooked is the fact that 1980’s and 1990’s kids grew up when an entire new subculture of the “Gamer” was born. We were born in an analog era but raised in the fast evolving digital era. We played video games at home after school on Nintendo or the Sega Genesis. When we were not home, we had Gameboys and GameGears ready to take on the road with us. As great as those gaming systems were, I always missed the arcade machine that I played in that gas station. With the home systems and portable systems so prominent, there were little to no arcades around to go to. That all changed in 1992.
While the arcades struggled to compete with the home systems a Japanese company called Konami saw the popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and wanted to give the arcades something that was not really a viable option for home gaming. What if they made a 4-player game where each person could play as one of those 4 famous turtles? Seeing their success, Capcom wanted to get a piece of the action and released a game called Street Fighter 2. The Gamer culture embraced this unique game with special characters and special moves. With the devotion that our parents wish we had applied to school, we would bring notebooks to the arcade to write down and memorize these special moves. Hadouken became a word at every lunch table at school. The arcades were coming back. If Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the wood, Street Fighter 2 was the lighter fluid, and then on October 8th, 1992, the match was lit with the release of Mortal Kombat. Video games would forever be changed with the new phrase, “Finish Him!”. The once ghost town arcades now had lines out the door. Kids and parents alike wanted to see this new game. Even the United States Congress stepped in to try to ban the game due to its violence. The arcades were back!
With the arcades back in action, it forced the home console companies to really step up their game. By 1992, the gamer culture was playing Super Mario World at home on their Super NES, Sonic the Hedgehog on their Sega Genesis, batteries always ready to take the Gameboy on the road. When parents were not using the computer for work, we were playing Wolfenstein 3D on the dial up modem. We were the first to use the internet after it was made publicly available in 1991 and few things were worse than playing Doom online and having your mom pick up the phone to make a phone call to Grandma.
We have come a long way since that first quarter was dropped into a Pong arcade machine in 1972. After the video game crash on 1983, we nearly lost it all. The video game industry was nearly a fad from the past. If it was not for the events in 1992, the American gamer culture would have simply never happened. Arcade 92 exists as a monument to this great culture that us 80’s and 90’s kids built. You can find retro games at Arcade 92 from 40 years ago to modern games released 40 days ago.
I do truly hope you enjoy your time here at Arcade 92 and my ever growing video game collection. Soak in the retro game nostalgia, find wonder at the new modern games, and above all else, make some memories with your friends and family.
Arcade 92 Founder