The UBC Arcade: A Reminiscence

Before I go on to my first gaming review, I really want to take the time to talk about the UBC Arcade. Yes you heard me correctly. There was an awesome arcade in UBC, and I was there, lol. It was situated in the Student Union Building (lovingly known as the SUB Building) in the heart of University of British Columbia, open from 8 a.m. to the dead of night. I am pretty sure that it opens at 8 since my bus got to the SUB Building at around 7 a.m. and I ended up getting breakfast and wait for the arcade to open (My 7 a.m. class got cancelled because the professor was sick that day.)

To say the least, for me the arcade is like Las Vegas in the middle of the Mojave desert of books and libraries. If not the loud noise booming from the arcade speakers, the crowds of people gathering around almost every arcade booth sure brings out the atmosphere of the place. I could still remember when someone was about make a record or beat the game, everyone crowded over to that machine, all the eyes staring at the monitor like a group of die-hard fans watching the finals game on a Sunday. A win results in huge euphoria heard loud across the arcade,  while a loss ends up with groans (also heard across the arcade.) And believe me, several of those people who played there also played fighting games in tournaments, so it’s almost like watching tournaments everyday. I mean seriously, there was a person who played House of the Dead 4 (a shooting game that I will talk about later on) and beat the game with just one dollar. The price of a single try in that game – a dollar. It speaks volumes about the regulars who played there, it really does.

Due to bad scheduling of my favorite classes, I actually got plenty of time in between classes. I always winded up in that dark hall with a bubble tea drink in my hand and a snack in the other (No wonder I was fat back then…) To truly describe my experience in that special place, I think the intro theme for the sitcom Cheers fits the bill perfectly. I certainly made a few friends over there, and the store owner definitely knows me well. I always ended up buying lunches in shops near the arcade and bringing them over to eat. It was better than having lunch while watching TV. I can still remember gigantic mushroom burgers with a decent portion of fries for less than 10 dollars. (In hindsight, I think I was very lucky that my weight was only 155 pounds and not around I don’t know… 200?!) To be honest, there were quite a few times I needed a time-out and ended up skipping class just to be there.

But alas, all good things comes to an end. During my fourth and final year, the arcade was shut down to make way for… (I still can’t believe it happened)… meeting rooms. That’s right, meeting rooms, despite the fact that you can find meeting rooms almost anywhere on campus. But it is what it is, the arcade is now gone, and all there’s left are the memories that are embedded deep within my mind.

So thank you, UBC Arcade, for the 3 wonderful years we shared together. May you live well and prosper in Arcade Heaven.


About shirogamiakatsuki

A Vancouverite with a few things to blog about
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5 Responses to The UBC Arcade: A Reminiscence

  1. anon says:

    I just barely remember that arcade. I was about 7 when I visited my older brother who was in University. It was the most amazing place ever. I couldn’t believe a school had an arcade when I was young hahaha. I miss that place so much.


  2. moxivus says:

    I’m gonna raise this post from the dead…

    My father attended UBC for his PhD from about 1992 to 1996, while I attended UHill just off campus for the same time period. I have very fond memories of the arcade at UBC, it was massive, poorly lit, and always had amazing games.

    As a High Schooler we rarely had more than a dollar to our name, but when we did it was usually of to the arcade. I spent large sums of money there on games that I play in MAME today. Skipping classes and playing Killer Instinct and Cruisin’ USA… The memories.

    Very sad to hear it was removed, but unfortunately not surprised.


  3. Leah Mosoff says:

    does anyone remember when exactly(ish) it closed? Such a great arcade!


  4. E.W. says:

    I remember going there with my Dad as a child and burning through what few coins my Dad gave me while he played pinball. Now I’m a father and I was hoping to take my son there as he loves pinball. I’m saddened to hear of the SUB Arcade’s demise.


  5. Gman says:

    Great article I was one of those guys who gamed until closing with 2-4 friends on a very regular basis. Or you could game and go over to the sub pub then back to the arcade. Flying wedge pizza up the stairs and many linked up Daytona games in the arcade and my fav four player gauntlet. No to mention the newest arcade games of the day and bunch of pinball Good times


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