The Lost Arcade and the Loss of Public Play

Doc tells the tale of a New York gaming institution in its final days

As personal consoles have taken the place of arcades, the whole idea of arcade culture has been pushed into a sort of forced obsolescence.

Presented by local video game collective Juegos Rancheros, The Lost Arcade is a documentary that dives right into the nostalgia of neon lights and pinball machines at an old New York City arcade called Chinatown Fair. Written and produced by Irene Chin and directed by Kurt Vincent, the film celebrates the arcade, its inhabitants, and the poignancy of a video game community.

Vincent and Chin immediately felt drawn to the arcade when they first visited it in 2011. “It was authentic, it was real, it wasn’t trying to recapture something from the past, it was just existing in its current form,” said Vincent. That night left a real mark on the two filmmakers, and they decided they had to capture the atmosphere on camera once they learned the arcade was closing down. But what began as a simple portrait of Chinatown Fair transformed into a broader eulogy for the nostalgic ideal of teenagers hanging out together at an arcade on a Friday night. “Something’s lost when video games are played alone in the living room,” said Vincent. “I think when you place them in a public venue they’re played with respect and they bond people together.”

As the story evolved, so did Vincent and Chin’s understanding of Chinatown Fair. They realized that the arcade wasn’t just a place to play games and pass the hours, but a home for many people who didn’t have anywhere else to go.

“A lot of people, when they see an arcade and video games, they think it’s just a place to blow off steam,” Vincent said. “I would love for people to see the movie and realize that surrounding them in the world are these special places that might not make the most financial sense or be particularly pretty either, but that still have so much value.”

The Lost Arcade - Official Trailer from ArcadeMovie on Vimeo.

The Lost Arcade screens Friday, Nov. 11, 8:30 at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Visit for tickets.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Video Games
Driving and Looting
Driving and Looting
Two mobile games from local devs rise above the mediocrity

Tucker Whatley, April 15, 2016

HavenCon: the Happiest Fest in Texas
HavenCon: the Happiest Fest in Texas
Cosplay madness, writing LGBT, and Janet Varney talks Korra

Nina Hernandez, April 5, 2015

More by Will McCarthy
Local Duo Crafts Texas-Inspired Tarot Deck
Local Duo Crafts Texas-Inspired Tarot Deck
The founders of Mesquite Tarot talk cards and compassion

Sept. 15, 2017

Six Ways to Have a Nostalgic Austin Summer
Six Ways to Have a Nostalgic Austin Summer
Travel back to a simpler time

May 23, 2017


The Lost Arcade, video games, Juegos Rancheros

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle