Recreating ‘The Cave': Reliving Childhood
Posted on January 17, 2016
Imagine the excitement of recreating a formative experience from your own childhood for kids from the next generation; that’s what I had last night.
When I was around 6 or 7, our family would regularly go to the Parafield Gardens Community Club for a meal: we had friends there, but it wasn’t all that exciting for us kids (bar the prawn cocktails). That was until they converted an old storage space out the side of the bar to the first video arcade I ever experienced. My memory is a bit hazy but I think they called it ‘The Cave'; it was obviously not purpose-built, but it housed the most recent games like Space Invaders, Galaga, Defender, and Donkey Kong. This was a major formative experience for me and really made me the gamer I am today.
One of the tragedies of progress is that video arcades and family entertainment centres are no longer economically viable in the same way they were in the 80s and 90s; they have been largely supplanted by home entertainment options. While some might call them a ‘business in decline’, others note that they live on in quiet alleys and basements, or even larger museums and galleries. But there is no doubting that it’s just not possible to visit arcades in family restaurants or other mainstream venues any more, despite warm memories of Downtown, Dazzleland, Magic Mountain and Timezone.
So last night I had the fantastic opportunity to bring the Game Truck to the Hotel Enfield for a Minecraft dinner night. Families could book a table in the bistro and treat their kids to half an hour of Minecraft gameplay after dinner. It was a huge success: the bistro was fully booked out with many more on the waiting list. As the families were arriving, the kids couldn’t take their eyes off the Truck and had to be dragged off for their dinner. When it was time for gaming they flooded into the truck and had a ball.
Only later did I realise that this event was closely recreating the experience I had as a kid: dinner with the family and then a few minutes off alone or with my brother and sister, having an awesome time with video games. I never thought that my parents probably also enjoyed a few minutes alone (!), but it was exactly the kind of win-win we get with the Game Truck too. Parents absolutely loved having a quiet drink or coffee after their meal while the kids were having a great time with one of their all-time favourite games, just like they do for a kid’s birthday party.
I guess this is one of the reasons I started this business: to try and recreate some of the formative experiences with video games that I had as a kid. I just never thought it would happen so concretely. Fortunately the Enfield seemed pretty happy with the event and we can look forward to more like it.