Pop+Offworld video arcade, bar and pizzeria opened in September 2017 in downtown Detroit.
Robert Allen /Detroit Free Press
One was named “Star Dust.” ButÂ neighbors on Detroit’s east side called itÂ “Hell’s Half Acre”Â thanks to the shoot-outs, beatings and break-ins it was accused of attracting.Â
On the west side, people blamed robberies and burglariesÂ on kids’ cravings for coins to feed flashing machines that emitted “strange musical sounds and zapping noises” from tall cabinets,Â the Free Press reported Aug. 1, 1983.Â
Today, you can walk up some stairs at the Checker Bar in downtown Detroit and hear the same noises â minus the community outrage: Video arcades are back.
More than three decades after the Â “Golden Age” of arcades peakedÂ in the early 1980s, the generation that embraced “Pac-Man,” “Donkey Kong” and “Galaga” during childhood is going back to the future. ArcadesÂ 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 fearsÂ 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,Â times he wouldÂ “get lost in a game or try to meet a girl.”Â
A little after 5 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, about 20 people were in his arcade, from young peopleÂ with backpacksÂ to white-collar workers inÂ ties. Offworld, at 128 Cadillac…