by Stephanie Malek
Back when I was growing up in the city, Yonge Street was full of arcades. There were at least 3 or 4 arcades around Yonge and Dundas and I remember going with my dad and getting handfuls of quarters and playing video games that I never could have imagined having at home.
Even in High School, when my internet friends (yes, I had lots of internet friends in 1997) would come into town, we'd pour our money into Funland's DDR machine and see who could get the top score on Butterfly or Captain Jack (just listening to those tracks brought back SO MANY MEMORIES).
There was even a giant Playdium at Richmond and John, right by the Scotiabank theatre - that's how popular arcades were.
As videogames became more home-based, the downtown arcades disappeared and those of us itching to play some classic games are left hoping for the random Street Fighter machine at a bar.
For several years, Toronto was dry of good gaming places until people like me started owning places and having cars! Bars like Get Well now have a decent offering of games, and for those of us with cars, Dave & Busters is an arcade geek's paradise.
My boyfriend and I were trying to plan a date one night and realized that we had never been to Dave & Busters. I'd been to the one in Niagara Falls and had a great time (I'm a gambler and winning tickets is an ADDICTION), so it seemed like a super fun date night. The first time we went, I got sick on weird random Russian candy, but we had our credits and a cool new addiction to Fruit Ninja so we returned a couple weeks later in mid-November.
As you can see, we're very serious about our Fruit Ninja (and apparently not so serious about learning how to record audio and video at the same time). We saved our tickets as Sean was really into the idea of us saving up and getting D&B hats to wear for future trips.
The holidays came and went and during the taint of the season (between Christmas and New Years), I was SO BORED. After querying Facebook, some friends decided to plan an impromptu outing BACK TO DAVE & BUSTERS!
Now, I for sure can't speak for everyone but this place was just as fun with a group! We each found games we wanted to play, and had a really decent meal with it!
Toronto also has a pretty neat indie game development community, which meets regularly and occasionally opens up its doors with a pop up arcade! No date set for 2015, but I was definitely kicking myself for not buying one of the limited tickets available for the 2014 date!
Edit 01/26: I was reminded by my awesome, hat-matching boyfriend that there was also an amazing pop-up pinball exhibit not that long ago in First Canadian Place where we got to play so many old machines FOR FREE. Man, Toronto, you are so cool.
Where do you like to play games?