New Documentary Is Eulogy for NYC’s Chinatown Fair Arcade

North America’s public arcades are dying but, before they go, Brooklyn, New York City filmmaker Kurt Vincent is doing his best to provide a fitting send-off with Arcade: The Last Night at Chinatown Fair.

Vincent’s documentary (which is currently featured on Kickstarter) captures the final week in the storied life of one of New York City’s last remaining arcades, Chinatown Fair, describing both the venue itself and the evolution of the videogaming subculture. Arcade centers on the diverse crowd of gamers that have helped Chinatown Fair to remain relevant despite the growing anachronism of coin-op cabinets being held up next to the rise of more affordable home consoles, examining their devotion to the arcade and migration to its former manager, Henry Cen’s new venture: Next Level.

Vincent has shot Arcade as something of a love letter to Chinatown Fair. His film looks at the unique atmosphere of an unpretentious arcade and the wide demographic of fans that ended up frequenting it over its more than fifty years of operation. Arcade: The Last Night at Chinatown Fair tracks the building of relationships and the development of an unorthodox community that has been made possible by the venue, demonstrating the strange (and fantastic) results that can arise from the simple existence of an ideal meeting place for enthusiasts.

In order to get the film finished up and ready for screenings, Kurt Vincent is taking to Kickstarter to ask for a bit of assistance. He needs crowd funding to finance production and post-production equipment rental and services (like editing, sound mixing, graphics, scoring and more) as well as cover some of the marketing costs that will help to get Arcade seen by as many viewers as possible. There are plenty of great pledging rewards up for grabs (including custom ‘zines, tickets to the NYC film premier and even a personalized Chinatown Fair arcade cabinet) as well.

Now that arcades are disappearing at a rapid pace it has become more important than ever before to document any remaining. More than just a place to come and play videogames, arcades have long served as a unique meeting place for people of all walks of life to come and socialize while sharing in their love of the medium. The incredible growth and transformation of the gaming industry has turned a niche hobby into a major cultural force and, because of this, it’s essential to preserve the medium’s history for future generations.

Instead of being a loner’s pasttime (or an XBox Live player’s ideal method of spitting anonymous insults), videogame playing can also maintain a healthy, undeniably unique form of social interaction that crosses all sorts of divides. Arcade: The Last Night at Chinatown Fair, in this way, shows not just the medium’s past but the possibilities of its future.

To read more on Arcade: The Last Night at Chinatown Fair, check out the doc’s official website, stop by its Facebook or head over (and give some dough) at the Kickstarter project page. The project will be funded on Tuesday, May 31st at 11.59PM EST if its goal of $20,000 is met on time.

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