Staying in the game

By Thomas Garcia: PNT Staff Writer

Video arcades have gone the way of the dinosaur with the constant development of newer high-tech home gaming consoles.

Long before people could sit in front of a television helping Master Chief put an end to the devious Covenant plot, they were standing in front of video machines helping Super Mario jump over barrels that were hurled at him by an ill-tempered ape or using a joystick to guide Pac-Man through a maze while gobbling up flashing dots.

Children and teenagers alike used to hit the arcades with a pocket full of quarters or few dollars squared away looking to best a high score or just have a good time.

One of these now archaic arcades was once tucked away in the bottom of the Campus Union Building at Eastern New Mexico University.
It held a variety of arcade games, pool tables, ping pong tables and a bowling alley.

The bowling alley was shut down in 1996 and the arcade was operated until renovations to basement of the CUB building were completed in 2002, said Malisa Molina, administrative secretary for ENMU’s Planning Services.

The arcade and bowling alley were replaced with offices, a student success center, and a food court that includes a Freshens frozen fruit smoothies, coffees and the World of Wings.

Penny Sanders, assistant professor of counseling at ENMU, recalls fondly memories of her father, Dallan Sanders, and the arcade he once managed.

“I used to spend my summers down in that arcade during my fourth- and fifth-grade years,” Sanders said with a laugh. “I’d play Pac-Man like crazy, even though I was not very good, and enjoyed the pinball machines.”

She said she can still recall the whistles, bleeps and chimes the machines used to make.

“It’s very nostalgic sound and it connects me to my past,” Sanders said. “It is a unique experience and it is always good to hear those sounds.”

Sanders said she was thinking about the old arcade with the approach of her 30-year high school reunion.

“My friend Marina Tureen is coming to Portales for the reunion and we used spend time in the bowling alley and arcade,” Sanders said.

Now-a-days you can download the classic games to the newer consoles such as Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s XBOX 360, and play them in the comfort of your home. Some of the games can be found and played online at various flash-gaming Web sites.

The machines that used to fill entire buildings just for profit can now be occasionally found in family-themed restaurants, bus stations and truck stops.