On August 12th, The Lost Arcade, a documentary about the end of old-school arcade culture in New York City, opens theatrically at the Metrograph. The film, which first premiered at DOC NYC in 2015, is a heartwarming tribute to the people that inhabited the legendary Chinatown Fair arcade on Mott Street.
From its opening in the 1940’s until its closing in 2011, the Fair was known to attract various enclaves of different players–from street fighting pros to Dance Dance Revolution masters. It allowed local gaming communities and friendships to grow beyond the glowing screens. For many, it became more than just an afternoon pastime; for the original owner, Sam Palmer, it wasn’t just another business project — Chinatown Fair was a refuge.
Over time, the flashing lights from thousands of arcades across the country have faded as sophisticated home consoles have been introduced. As sales for Nintendo and Sony game systems soared, arcades across the city closed, until Chinatown Fair was the last one standing. Eventually the Chinatown Fair closed, due to landlord disputes, and found a new home in Brooklyn. The arcade has since reopened under new management at 8 Mott St., but has been unable to maintain the community vibe, disappointing the regulars.
The film suggests that arcade gaming is not dead, rather, it’s evolving for the next generation of players. Communities inevitably form regardless of how many game systems appear, but the challenge in New York, of course, is sustainability as commercial rent rates continue to skyrocket.
The Lost Arcade‘s exclusive NY theatrical engagement at the Metrograph runs August 12-18. Visit the site here for showtimes and ticket info.
Watch the trailer here: