New Haven Gets a Barcade: But What Is it?

Attention video game enthusiasts! How does leaving your mother’s basement sound? Does it make you feel… cautiously optimistic?

That’s right! Coming soon to downtown New Haven’s 9th Square District is a bona fide relic of days past that will lure you with the promise of sore thumbs and high scores. However, this magical place will morph that timid, pocket protector-adorned torso in to a stout, robust beer aficionado (i.e. alcoholic).

And what about those bros (and sistas!) that long to become Pac-man world record holders? Don’t worry if you aren’t a gamer. One night at Barcade will convert you. Nerds will be bros. Bros will be nerds. We’ll all have snacks. The great equalizer is upon us.

It’s kind of weird how nerd chic is a thing now.

So what, pray tell, is a “Barcade”?

Let’s break down the word itself. We all know what a bar is – a fine establishment where you pay a lot of money to make poor decisions.

There’s another word in there that you probably haven’t heard in a while. The utterance of “arcade” may not elicit the same emotions in everyone depending on your age. Anyone over the age of 25 has a probably been in one at some point their life so I shan’t need to define one that demographic.

Under 25? Let me paint you a picture. If you wanted to play videogames in the early 70’s you had to go to a special building called a “video arcade” where all the video games of the day were housed. Also, games were the size of refrigerators.

Then, home versions were released to the public and you could hook up to your TV and have televisual games at home! Unfortunately, these version were crap and almost completely killed off gaming for good. However, in the mid 80’s a little boutique playing card company out of Japan called “Nintendo” saved us all from boredom with an Italian plumber and his thinner (yet less successful) brother.

Soon after, arcades were back in full swing until about the mid to late 90’s, when the technology caught up and folks could get a comparable, if not better, experience at home. Arcades quickly shrank in popularity and most of the neighborhood haunts went belly up.

These days it’s hardly surprising to find a college student who has never stepped foot in glowing, electronic Shangri-La. You’re in luck, Yalies. Welcome to Barcade. Half brewpub. Half videogame museum. All awesome to the max!!!

Arcade Babe
So awesome to the max that attractive women may wander in.

Opening in the 9th Square District early next year, Barcade will provide the downtown with two important community services: classic video games and booze (can never have enough booze). The obvious comparison will be made to the chain Dave & Busters – an attempt to cash in on the fond memories of gamers with the aborted offspring of arcades and the dark lord C’thulhu that is corporate greed.

Ever notice how once you stop drinking you stop having fun? That’s because the “video games” they have are mediocre at best and shoddily programmed piggy banks at the worst. Don’t fool yourself in to thinking you’re awesome at Big Buck Hunter.

Even when you commit absolute cervicide, (Ed note: Deer killing, look at this fancy writin’!) you are forced to deposit more and more credits to simply keep playing. When you aren’t rewarded for skill, even with something as arbitrary as the ability to keep playing for free, then what’s the point?…..but I digress.


Barcade is a far cry from Dave & Busters. The owners cherry-pick everything that they sell from their lovingly crafted selection of local and regional microbrews to their curated army of quarter munching classics. Keep na eye on their Instagram for updates as to which games you’ll be seeing when the Orange Street location opens up.

And in keeping up with their usual policy, you wont’ see anything after the late 90’s. So none of that Golden Tee nonsense — we’re talking the classics.

These guys know double bock and Double Dragon. Lager and Frogger. If their base in Brooklyn to any indication of what to expect in New Haven then I have a new heaven.


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