This past weekend, I had the pleasure of checking out the Galloping Ghost arcade in Brookfield, IL. The exterior of the place betrays the amount of well-kept arcade cabinets and, honestly, the volume was staggering.
Initially, I was in awe at the simplicity of GG’s pricing structure: it costs $15 to get in the door and all the machines are free to play. The more modern cabinets actually have a free play option, but the older machines—Galaga, Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man, etc.— were retrofitted with a button that registers each press as an inserted coin. The amount of money you would spent to get through a game served as a nice benchmark of just how much you sucked. After beating the original House of the Dead with a friend of mine, we had the grim realization that the experience would have set us back about $8 each.
Although my inner-90s child was in awe at the prospect of being able to beat every Metal Slug for a one-time free of $15,1 I slowly realized this is the only business model that makes any sense. Thanks to the ever increasing popularity of video games—especially with their proliferation on mobile devices— the idea of paying by the continue seems archaic. Then again, any dedicated arcade that’s not a Chuck E. Cheese (or wherever else kids go to shit in a ball pit)2 is a rarity.
Coincidentally, GG was hosting a Mortal Kombat tournament the same time I was there and I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel Pesina, the mocap model for Johnny Cage.3
The mocap guy for Shang Tsu was also there for a while, but I didn’t realize who he was until he ran off somewhere, presumably to steal souls. Evidently, he’s also a doctor. Or at least he was signing autographs with “M.D.” at the end of his name.
1Assuming one is paying 25 cents per continue, this would cost the average person roughly $600.
2Sadly, this was something I experienced in my childhood. Not as the shitting kid, but as the victim who unknowingly wades into human feces at Discovery Zone. Really changed how I felt about birthday parties.
3“Meet” is probably the wrong word. I just kind of blankly stared at him and wondered how Johnny Cage escaped his TV prison.