As an industry, global gaming has never been bigger, it’s so big in fact that according to market and consumer data website Statista gaming made $347 billion US dollars in 2022 - that’s more than four times the revenue generated by the movie business.
Rolling back the clock 35 years to my childhood and it was a very different picture. It was the late 80s and I’d recently upgraded my 48k Spectrum computer for a state-of-the-art Amiga 500+ - but if you wanted to play the latest games, there was only one choice…the arcade.
Picture the scene, it’s 1988, I’m 11 years-old and I’m dragging myself and the sum total of my saved pocket money that month (usually about ten pounds) to the arcade - if I was on gaming form I’d get maybe two or three hours of entertainment, if I wasn’t, it could be over in a heartbeat.
My arcade of choice was in Cleveleys, on the corner of Victoria Road West and Princess Road, where Elegant Clothing now stands - if anyone can remember what it was called and when it closed please let me know.
Fast-forward some 35 years and that teenage gamer, who could spend hours carefully choosing which of the latest games would receive a carefully saved 50p coin, now rarely finds the time to game at all.
Finally, just over 12 months on from hearing about Arcade Club adding to its Leeds and Bury venues with a third in Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, Father’s Day presented the perfect opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and feed my gaming nostalgia.
Entering the Bloomfield Road venue, formerly home to the Sam Thai casino which closed in 2015, you are hit by an unmistakable cacophony of classic arcade music and sounds, much like an 8-bit opera, if you can imagine such a thing.
And if the sound doesn’t grab you, the array of legendary titles will. You can systematically move from machine-to-machine, enjoying classic game after classic game. Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Outrun, Point Blank, R-Type, Golden Axe, Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat, the list seems joyfully endless.
With over 200 machines, it’s not just retro classics that fill the space, there are also modern classics such as Guitar Hero, House of the Dead, Luigi's Mansion - alongside more tactile pursuits including air hockey and basketball.
The 8-bit food and drink cafe also offers a welcome break from the relentless button smashing, with great food and a bar for the more mature gamer, that won’t cost you a fortune.
A full day of unlimited nostalgia-driven entertainment costs £16 per adult, £8 per child, with a family ticket for four setting you back £40 - which compared to eking out £10 over a day as a teenager certainly felt like a bargain.
With free on-site parking as well, Arcade Club is a day out that has everything for the family, or, an aging gamer desperate to relive his youth.