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By David Cawthon
On Christmas Day 1984, Devin Durham gave his brother Jason a Tron game the size of a refrigerator, the first of their arcade game and pinball machine collection. Eventually, their private stash would outgrow Devin’s office, friend’s garages, and other odd locations where the hulking games were stored.
If they didn’t do something, they would have to forfeit their collection. To avoid having their hobby go game over, Devin and his friends opened 1984 Arcade in downtown Springfield in 2005. Seven co-owners united their collections, so patrons can play the original Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, and Space Invaders; rarer games such as Omega Race, Radarscope, and The Empire Strikes Back; and, of course, that original Tron machine.
The arcade’s name pays homage to the year Devin acquired his first arcade game, the abundance of pop culture gold in 1984, and George Orwell’s classic novel.
Gamers can play the old-school machines all night for five bucks, though the pinball machines require quarters. While patrons wait to play, they can rock out to ’80s jams and watch the flicks of the decade on wall-mounted televisions. The Tron-inspired bathroom, set aglow with neon lights, is totally tubular.
The arcade is deeper than its aesthetics; it takes technical know-how to keep the old games up and running. Sometimes, a faulty button or joystick needs to be replaced, but other times, the problem is more serious. If an out-of-production tube fails, the broken game is likely vanquished forever. The repairable machines take a time out in the massive backroom stash, while another subs in.
You may never say “Eat my shorts” or play with your Care Bears again, but there’s a little place in Springfield where video-game nuts and pinball wizards can bask in arcade glory.