Rochester goes retro with arcade

By Kyle Parker
Staff Writer

Erik Derby, 18, of Mantorville plays Pac-Man on one of the more than 30 game cabinets at the Machine Shed, 11 Second St. NE, in downtown Rochester. No quarters are needed. A flat $10 fee allows you to play as long as the Machine Shed is open that day. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Link, Rochester Post Bulletin)

Relegated to the sad sideshow of the bars and restaurants and bowling allies, arcade cabinets have been on what could be considered life support for a very long time.

With the ease of video games in the home and on the go it would not be all that unexpected that these relics of an old era would stay in such places.

Rochester, however, is going back to this old age. Could the “Machine Shed” keep this era of gaming alive just a bit longer?

James Aakre, owner of Protech Services, is teaming with Brandon Strong to give this era another shot or at least a place where the nostalgic can recall. I happen to be one of those that remembers when Rochester had a proper arcade. The name is lost in the fog of age, but I can still remember wandering in the place where Zpizza now stands. An open invitation for kids to gather while their parents did the shopping. Skeeball was in the back. Dance machines were in the front, and cabinets filled in the space between.

Will Machine Shed survive? It is unclear. There are still many places that have fully working arcades. Even still working Drive in Theaters as well. So, truly nothing really dies as long as there are people that care to remember and experience it. So, the Machine Shed just might do the same. Arcades were the place that kids gathered to play.

Now, they are the place that the adults who had been those kids gather once more.


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