Arcade games: the feel good factor

A photographer notices how arcade games, no matter their age, pull people into a feel-good place, himself included.

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    Mark Hazelton, a fan of classic games, plays Super Mario Bros. at the American Classic Arcade Museum in Laconia, N.H.
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I was exhausted as I walked into the American Classic Arcade Museum in Laconia, N.H. What should have been a beautiful, relaxing drive from Boston after a day in the newsroom had turned into a four-hour traffic ordeal.

Eager to complete the assignment and go home, I hurried into the building. But as I looked around, I slowed down. Pac-Man, Mario Bros., Galaga – row upon row of my favorite video games from childhood – stood in neat aisles. It was like walking through a "best of" list from my past, and suddenly I couldn't wait to get started.

As I met the owner and talked to patrons I began to wonder what it was about this place that made people feel good.

Were these older games better than current graphics-intensive games? Were people attracted to the fact that they were simpler? Was it the nostalgia they evoked?

As I finished my assignment and started playing a quick game of Pong before I headed home, I decided it didn't matter much why these games made people feel so good – what mattered was that they did.

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