We here at Cream enjoy our gaming as much as the next Fortnite-infatuated fanatic. And while we love a lot of the titles that Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox have to offer (we’re often in front of the big screen with console in hand in the middle of the day when we really ought to be writing and dishing editorial out to you), we don’t mind a few physical games as well. Also, those fun and games in the office lounge warrant an hiatus on occasion so you can get out and, you know, experience some real life. Well, real life going on around you as you escape into a world of whirls and buzzes and shots and colour. That’s what it’s like when I walk into Timezone.
One recent lunch hour (or two), our trusty games reviewer Ben Roccamante decided it might be nice to step out of our comfort zone and venture off to an arcade for some game-play away from the telly. To get into something more “physical”, if you will.
A drive to Timezone in Fremantle proved not only a breath of fresh air but made us realise arcade culture is keeping up with a couple of gaming trends, while also delivering big, bold, bright retro favourites, too.
Come to think of it, this joint reminds me of that 1920s level in Cuphead where every bug’s dancing the Charlston.
Patrons not only get to enjoy everything from air hockey to shooting galleries, and ‘Pokémon’-themed games to ‘Pac-Man’ (2.0, of course), they also tally ‘tickets that go towards scoring beaut pop culture loot. Better than Bitcoin some of this stuff.
Daniel Di Virgilio has been working at Timezone for 10 years now and is a Multi-Site Manager looking after all Timezone branded venues in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Here he chats with Cream about arcade culture versus at-home gaming, and how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles managed to crawl their way into his must-have desert-island list.
Hi Daniel. What experience do you feel Timezone offers its customers that at-home gaming can’t provide?
Timezone creates a unique out of home experience for our guests that can’t be replicated anywhere else. There’s a variety at our venues that you couldn’t find on something as 2D as a simple television screen.
Indeed, Timezone features even ‘sideshow-alley’ games these days. It’s different compared to when I was a kid – where most games were sit-down style. Do you find games like ‘Shooting Gallery’ and ‘Bean Bag Toss’ are as popular with customers as traditional themed games, like ‘Space Invaders’?
Certainly. We’ve found over recent years that people are really into more interactive and engaging experiences which generally involve a physical component and can be enjoyed in a social space. Whether it’s a bit of friendly competition or chasing heaps of tickets for that big prize, having a game of bowling or laser tag… there’s something for everyone to play.
I’ve also noticed traditional games have evolved: ‘Pacman’ has become a puck table game, for example. Do you think we’ll continue to see the likes of ‘Pacman’, ‘Donkey Kong’ and ‘Space Invaders’ constantly included in arcade culture?
Definitely. There are heaps of brands and licenses that have evolved beyond their originally intended role and which have adapted to suit what the “arcade” market trends are. Take Mario as a perfect example – in our venues we have Mario Kart, Mario & Sonic At The Olympics, and they are even turning Mario Party into an arcade experience!
“We’ve found that people are really into more interactive and engaging experiences which generally involve a physical component and can be enjoyed in a social space.”
How do you see arcade gaming evolving; what changes might we expect in the next few years?
Our industry is constantly evolving, and it’s safe to say a big component will be the Virtual Reality (VR) space. It’s already becoming a big thing and it will be a mainstay in the way guests engage in new interactive experiences.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what two games would you have to have with you?
I would definitely need 1991’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time and a classic massive air hockey table! Oh, and maybe a generator to power them, ha ha!
What would you say is the best thing about your job?
Being in such a unique industry, every week we get to see friends, families, couples, and everyone in between, having the time of their lives and creating lifelong memories in our venues. It’s a truly great and rewarding experience to be involved in!
Timezone Australia has locations right across Australia: 35 locations, in fact. To find a venue near you, visit www.timezonegames.com/en-au/locations.