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Pop+Offworld video arcade, bar and pizzeria opened in September 2017 in downtown Detroit.
Robert Allen /Detroit Free Press

One was named “Star Dust.” But neighbors on Detroit’s east side called it “Hell’s Half Acre” thanks to the shoot-outs, beatings and break-ins it was accused of attracting. 

On the west side, people blamed robberies and burglaries on kids’ cravings for coins to feed flashing machines that emitted “strange musical sounds and zapping noises” from tall cabinets, the Free Press reported Aug. 1, 1983. 

Today, you can walk up some stairs at the Checker Bar in downtown Detroit and hear the same noises — minus the community outrage: Video arcades are back.

Read more:

Arcade bar with over 30 games opens in downtown Detroit

More than three decades after the  “Golden Age” of arcades peaked in the early 1980s, the generation that embraced “Pac-Man,” “Donkey Kong” and “Galaga” during childhood is going back to the future. Arcades stocked with vintage cabinets from the ’80s and ’90s are returning across the country. They’re approached with nostalgia, and often a pint of craft beer, as past fears have long-since faded.

For Don Behm, 42, co-owner of Pop+Offworld Arcade above Checker Bar, video arcades conjure youthful memories of a place for social gatherings, times he would “get lost in a game or try to meet a girl.” 

A little after 5 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, about 20 people were in his arcade, from young people with backpacks to white-collar workers in ties. Offworld, at 128 Cadillac…