For those of you old enough to have played video games in the late 1970s or 1980s– the halcyon days of Defender, Xevious, and Tron, not to mention a Pac Man franchise that rivaled CSI– the terrific retro arcade photset on Flickr is not to be missed.
Perhaps I'm just over-generalizing from my own over-excited teenage reactions to these kinds of spaces, but I think these arcades, with their spaceship or Buck Rogers interiors, darkness lit only by the neon and the light of the games, played an underappreciated role in creating a psychological association between computers and space– or alternate spaces.
called Station Break. The arcade was on the edge of the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, near student eateries, bookstores, and the city's only independent movie theatre. For a teenager, it was a neighborhood that spoke of leisure, freedom, and escape. The arcade itself was like another world.
The appeal of these spaces hasn't disappeared entirely, though most arcades are gone. The memory of the old arcade model was compelling enough to inspire MAME developers to create a virtual arcade, and there's a pretty clear linage from Station Break to Chuck E Cheese to the Pizza Planet in Toy Story. For those who really want the old experience, a Springfield, MO arcade, 1984, is a nostalgic re-creation of arcades from the era, right down to the 50+ classic games.