Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The Hi Score Arcade
Anyone that knows me knows I'm an old school video game and pinball fanatic. I spend time each week combing through want ads, classifieds, and game collector forums for old parts and machines. I drive out to the middle of fucking nowhere podunk Washington to buy games from people basements, barns and occasionally from under a tarp in their yard. And over the past eight or so years have built quite a collection of games and have my own basement arcade. The motivation for it dated back to when I was a kid.
I grew up in the 80's. As a kid I spent many hours riding buses or biking across town with my friends to different arcades or stores with an arcade game or pinball table buried in one corner. We'd sink countless quarters into defending the earth, gunning down enemy planes, and hitting the silver ball. Arcade games provided an escape from the world and it's problems. For a quarter or two I could be transported into another world where I was no longer an insignificant minor player in the events that happened around me, but was instead the king, the hero, the conqueror and the champion. Well... at least until I died.
During the late '80s and early '90s, thee place for arcades in Seattle was The U-District. But by the mid-'90s the last of The Ave's arcades, Wizards of the Coast, closed it's doors... much like Arnold's, Space Port, The Ave Arcade and The Game Space had earlier. The arcades were dying.
A couple of kids from punk bands however decided to make one last stand. In 1997 Zach and Jake from Bloodhag and Beth from Vandemonium opened The Hi Score Arcade. The Hi Score was a mammoth tribute to games of yore, with two rooms filled pins and vids, plus Transformers, Atari and other toys and imagery from the '80s. The same year Medieval Madness was put out by William's Pinball and it not only became a top grossing pinball machine, but it sparked a re-newed interest in pinball with another generation of kids. And kids were drawn to The Hi Score, along with us folks in their twenties and thirties. There were so many games, live rock and punk shows, and even couches just to hang out on. Located on the up and coming Pike/Pine corridor (612 E. Pine), the place was a hit for a few years, before eventually going out of business. I wish it was still around today!
Bloodhag still is a popular band that both performs and records. Beth and Zach went on to help start Tablet (with me and a bunch of other folks). Jake is now an announcer for The Rat City Rollergirls and SSP Wrestling.