When I think “video game arcade,” I think of decal-covered wooden cabinets with greasy joysticks. I think of a reflective screen, tracing a lonely ship inside a black void. I think of the blinking words INSERT COIN, and Pac-Man’s grating, ear-splitting beeps. I think of nerds.
I remember when I was a shy, soft-spoken 8 year-old, the first time I entered a video arcade. I felt my stomach tense at the noise, my eyes wander from light to blinding light. I almost tripped in the dark. I remember the anticipation of entering a land where my hobby was a culture, not a shame. And I remember of a crowd of kids surrounding one arcade cabinet in particular. And some of those kids were my classroom bullies.