Video arcade games had their golden age during the 70’s and 80’s, most famously with games such as Donkey Kong and Space Invaders. Gaming was a social and competitive activity back then that mostly took place in amusement arcades and required pocketfuls of coins to operate the games. Now, ever since the introduction of video game consoles, which began with the NES and its iconic first game Super Mario Bros, gaming is a mainly solo pursuit and the video arcade games and pinball machines that so many people grew up playing have all but gone extinct. As these games died out, superseded by the consoles, the culture and community of arcade gaming died with it.
Just off Norde Frihavnsgade in Ostebro, north Copenhagen, there is a basement shop that would go unrecognised if it were not for the open door and instantly recognisable pings, clacks, and beeps of an arcades. This is Chassis Arcades, the first and only traditional amusement arcade in Copenhagen. The small basement shop that they use is filled with as many video arcade games they could get their hands on, regardless of condition. Run by volunteers and arcade enthusiasts the shop has three pinball machines and 14 standing arcade games including Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Super Bomber Man, Gyruss, and Bomb Jack, to name but a few.
Walking into the shop it is impossible not to be flooded with nostalgia. Not only do they have arcade games from the 70’s and 80’s but they have hundreds of games for the consoles that superseded them. Lining one of the walls in the shop is a set of shelves full of games for the SNES, Master System, and Playstation 1. Duck Hunting, Echo the Dolphin, and Mario Cart all feature.
Kim, one of the volunteers helping to run the arcade, mentioned that he had a favourite game and that they managed to find it, fix it and get it working again. He showed us the game, situated exactly opposite the front door, and it had some writing on its side, an extremely long number. He said that he had managed to beat the world record but because the game kept dying, he had to write it on the side of it. It took him 49 hours straight.
The guys at Chassis are preserving the camaraderie and playful competitiveness the arcade gaming community is built upon. The satisfaction they get from running the arcade is rooted in the number and variety of gamers that come to play, hang out, and compete in their shop. They are currently running a crowd-funding campaign to raise enough money to secure a bank loan to pay for a bigger place and a bar.