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Ethos statement

Essentially we just wanted to make a place we would love to go to ourselves. It may seem pompous to include an ethos statement, but we don't have the finances of our competitors: instead, we have our knowledge, personality and devotion. We think that it is our character that makes us stand apart, and aim to define that here


Much of the technology we represent is lost. The parts used in them are not made any more and the skills surrounding their production close to lost. Quite literally the factories and people that made them are no longer around. So, we have to repair. We take things that have been neglected over decades and would often be scrapped. Mark taught himself to make these electronic repairs necessary to make these machines work again so they can be appreciated by several different generations. 


We consider games as a kind of art, and recognise their huge cultural impact. Much like popular music, the games industry is driven by trends and money – and an attempt to co-opt evolutionary emotional and behavioural compulsions – however, every era has seen creativity and innovation that has excelled far beyond commercial intent. We want to curate games that innovated within their restraints, be that sprite ROM, RAM, soundfont, level design, or game mechanics. While there is certainly a space for nostalgia, we intend to go beyond that to consider games that are bizarre, fun and bold. Check the games' lists for some examples. 


Gaming is something now universally loved, though it didn't appear to be when we were growing up. Working in this space, it has been fantastic to see that everyone loves these games. We have ideas about how these games are best appreciated (with the sound and image being powerful and immersive), but we recognise that not everyone is the same: what people value and want to experience varies wildly. We want to make this space as inclusive and appealing as we can, and would really appreciate suggestions on how to do this. The key thing we've noticed is that not everyone likes the 'arcade sound', so we make the back area a bit darker and quieter so people can free more relaxed there, and also offer sound-blocking headphones at the front desk.


The majority of games we present run on bespoke hardware designed to be displayed via RGB on CRTs. So essentially, unique hardware displayed on analogue output (to contrast with modern plug and play standards like USB and HDMI). To us, nothing looks better, and also has the extra benefit of almost no input lag. Whenever possible we will be using the original hardware and displaying it as intended on CRTs. Sometimes this technology can be prohibitively expensive, and due to its age or design, prone to malfunction or break, and in these instances our desire for it to be played and enjoyed will take priority. If we do emulate, we will emulate as accurately and well as possible (such as using FPGA and CRTs). A counter argument is that commercial demand in second-hand sales leads to remakes of retro games and modern retro solutions (like mini consoles). We agree with this, which is partly why we intend to generate much more interest in these games and systems.


Playing multiplayer games generally means playing games online these days. We want to celebrate actual in-person shared experiences – another thing that has been lost over the last 15 years. Many online games have a toxic environment, and seem to become primarily about players trying to improve at the game. We want people to just play games for the sake of having fun. Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Bomberman, Donkey Konga, WarioWare, NBA Jam, Point Blank, Wii Sports, etc. These games represent the kind of experience that sadly seems to be missing from a lot of games. Games that buck this trend though, like Overcooked and Towerfall, are excellent and we intend to also represent them.


We get excited by the history and stories involved in gaming technology and game design, and are always happy to discuss what we love with anyone that comes in. We will be demonstrating different arcade hardware for anyone to come in and appreciate. Mark is in and repairing stuff at the front of the arcade, and will engage and explain the repair work we do, such as fault finding, recapping, discharging, etc, to anyone that is curious. 


We are based in 18-20 Galleries, and this unit is currently leased by Artspace Lifespace. We share it with Hoard (Dungeons and Dragons gaming group) and Keep Art It (art promotional organisation), and as such all have charitable community-based goals. To fulfil this we intend to have practical demonstrations of some of the restoration work we carry out on original arcade hardware, consoles and CRTs, and provide occasionally free and heavily discounted sessions so anyone can come visit and take part in the retro gaming community. Any ideas for things we could do then please let us know. 


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