The beloved New York City arcade Chinatown Fair closed last month after three decades; its owner, Henry Cen, will open a new arcade, but it will be in a different location, with a different focus, and evidently with fewer games.
The New York Times, in a profile in today’s edition, says Cen will open “Next Level” in Brooklyn. While it will cater to the fighting game crowd that made Chinatown Fair a famous attraction, it won’t carry the kind of cabinets that make an arcade a hangout.
The Times says Next Level only has eight games right now. “The emphasis is on those same ultracool fighting games that so dazzled the cognoscenti on Mott Street,” reports the Times, “and which, it turns out, Mr. Cen had purchased for Chinatown Fair with his own money, at around $US10,000 apiece.”
Next Level is not yet open to the public. It’s located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, on “the first floor of a modest residential building,” which also is a departure from Chinatown Fair’s grimy, hole-in-the-wall digs.
Cen intends for Next Level to attract star players of fighting games. Projection screens streaming video game tournaments and a bubble tea service will also be installed. Cen is confident that the fighting game culture is enough to make the arcade sustainable.
“Fighting games attract one thing: people that want to be respected,” Cen told the times. “There’s a lot of people in life that don’t get respected for a lot of things they do. So they have this pent-up anger, then they walk in the arcade, they play a fighting game, and if they beat someone, they gain their respect. And with that, it builds camaraderie. Respect is the most important thing in life.”
For Displaced Gamers, a Light on the Horizon [The New York Times]