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The age of the arcade bar dawns in Christchurch

The nostalgic pleasure of dropping a coin in a machine for a video game or a round of pinball is returning to Christchurch.

A pair of new arcade bars are set to open in central Christchurch in January and February, bringing the global trend to the city. The bars are a combination of a vintage video game arcades and traditional bars. Arcadia will open on Barbadoes St in January, while The Dive is due to open on New Regent St in February.


Pintech director Iain Jamieson is providing vintage video game and pinball machines for a new bar in Christchurch. Space Wars was made in Christchurch in the 1970s.

​Pintech director Iain Jamieson is supplying about 33 vintage video game and pinball machines for Arcadia. The bar will give out free game tokens with drink and food purchases.

Jamieson said arcade bars were popular overseas.

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"It has taken off overseas. There are places with walls of video games and they are killing it.

"The attraction is people reliving their misspent youth. When they were kids they were playing these games and now they have a little bit more money to play with."

Arcadia will host pinball tournaments and corporate tournaments as a novel alternative to laser strike or go karting.

The Dive owner Matthias McGregor said his bar would be a place people could hang out with friends and play vintage video games. In the day, he would serve coffee and pizza by the slice, while in the evening people could "buy a beer and play Street Fighter." Each beer comes with a free token to play a game on one of the arcade and pinball machines.

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"People can complain about their not being much to do in Christchurch or they can make their own fun."

He said New Regent St was the perfect location for his bar.

"New Regent St is not about big bars competing with each other. It is a little community of people doing something a bit different."

McGregor also owns Blast from the Past, a shop in Cathedral Junction that sells vintage records, comics, video games and various geek culture items. He said the bar idea sprang from people wanting to hang out in the shop.

"They don't want to come in and buy something, they want to talk about all the games they played as a kid. People come in just to talk. I see it as selling memories and dreams rather than just products."

He said middle-aged men often came to the shop with their children to introduce them to vintage video games and play the arcade machines that stand outside his store.

"I have seen them lifting their 8-year-olds up so they can play Spacies for the first time."

- Stuff

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