Arcade Britannia - A Social History of the British Amusement Arcade

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Arcade Britannia - A Social History of the British Amusement Arcade

Post by drglitch »

Hello Penny Machines,

My name is Alan Meades, I'm a UK-based academic with an interest in amusement arcades. I've got a book coming out next year with MIT Press telling the story of the development of the British arcade, especially post 1960 Gaming Act. Some of you may have heard about the Nic Costa Archive, that's led by me after Nic very kindly donated his collection to my university. I'm in the process of organising and scanning materials from it (apologies for using some of your images when I was testing the portfolio function on the website), at the moment it is just me using my research funds and time to do this, but I should have a research assistant on board early next year. The plan is to make Nic's collection - and the different things I've collected over the years - available for researchers, and wherever possible online.

I spoke with Nic recently, wanting to start work on processing things that would potentially be as useful to the coin-op community as possible. As a result, I've started with Nic's 5000-ish entry index card system, where he chronicled every machine, manufacturer, coin-op luminary, and significant coin-op location that he encountered. The scanning of this should hopefully be finished before Christmas, and I was wondering if people might be interested in seeing this... and hoping whether the community would be interested in helping rename the files so they can be more easily searched and used as a resource. If this is of interest I'll post a link to the files within the forum proper.

The archive contains so many different things: brochures, flyers, books, (thousands of) photo negatives, slides, auction catalogues, letters, notes, and of course, index cards. I'm sure that there's lots of content that Pennymachines members would be interested in. I'm just glad to help ensure that this stuff is made accessible and does not disappear into a private collection.

All the best,
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Post by pauljt71 »

Hi Alan,

Sounds a great idea and would certainly love to have a look through the archive.

regards Paul
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john t peterson
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Re: Hello again!

Post by john t peterson »


What a terrific project. We may just have to put you into the British Coin-Op Hall of Fame, next to Mr. PennyMachines.

J Peterson
American by birth, British by interest
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Re: Hello again!

Post by badpenny »

Hi, thanks for contacting us and inviting us to partake in your most excellent project.
May I suggest any files you make available are accompanied by clear instructions or guidelines as to how you would welcome any input from our members.
Alan, you mentioned ...
drglitch wrote: Sat Dec 11, 2021 7:17 pm (apologies for using some of your images when I was testing the portfolio function on the website)
Thanks for that, we were aware and we enjoy our resources being given recognition and value. What we do ask in return is that acknowledgement is given. I understand the images were the result of a lot of hard work by a member here, and I'm sure you'd agree should be recognised. I am merely pre-empting, we had an issue over a year ago with somebody who copied a mass of our information and graphics in order to copy and sell on eBay. This has left us a little twitchy. We have safeguarded our resources now to prevent it happening again. May I suggest you send any files to our esteemed leader Mr. Pennymachines ( ... il&u=10139) in order he may decide if your files should be covered by our safeguard as well.
We wish you every success in your valuable work and eagerly await your book.

Best Regards
Badpenny !!YIPPEE!!
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Re: Hello again!

Post by cait001 »

Happy you made it here! :)

Here is that thread where I first inquired about coin slot: Putting Coinslot archive online
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Re: Hello again!

Post by pennymachines »

Arcade Britannia
Arcade Britannia

Alan Meades' paperback book, Arcade Britannia - A Social History of the British Amusement Arcade (Game Histories)
(336 pp., 6 x 9 in, 50 b&w illus. Publisher: MIT Press Ltd, United States. ISBN-13: 9780262544702, 978-0262544702) is now available on eBay (and elsewhere) from £22.92.
Thanks Bryans Fan for the heads-up. !THUMBS!
The story of the British amusement arcade from the 1800s to the present.

Amusement arcades are an important part of British culture, yet discussions of them tend to be based on American models. Alan Meades, who spent his childhood happily playing in British seaside arcades, presents the history of the arcade from its origins in traveling fairs of the 1800s to the present. Drawing on first hand accounts of industry members and archival sources, including rare photographs and trade publications, he tells the story of the first arcades, the people who made the machines, the rise of video games, and the legislative and economic challenges spurred by public fears of moral decline.

Arcade Britannia highlights the differences between British and North American arcades, especially in terms of the complex relationship between gambling and amusements. He also underlines Britain's role in introducing coin-operated technologies into Europe, as well as the industry's close links to America and, especially, Japan. He shows how the British arcade is a product of centuries of public play, gambling, entrepreneurship, and mechanization. Examining the arcade's history through technological, social, cultural, biographic, and legislative perspectives, he describes a pendulum shift between control and liberalization, as well as the continued efforts of concerned moralists to limit and regulate public play. Finally, he recounts the impact on the industry of legislative challenges that included vicious taxation, questions of whether copyright law applied to video-game code, and the peculiar moment when every arcade game in Britain was considered a cinema.
Jaroslav Švelch, Assistant Professor at Charles University, Prague and author of Gaming the Iron Curtain wrote:Alan Meades upends the dominant narrative of the mythic US arcade and offers a passionate, century-spanning history of the British arcades, painting them as a lively intersection of leisure, business, technology, and political struggles.
Alex Wade, Senior Research Fellow at Birmingham City University and author of Playback: A Genealogy of 1980s British Videogames and The Pac-Man Principle: A User's Guide to Capitalism wrote:Meades's exhaustive detailing of the tentacular national and international British amusement arcade is without equal. Arcade Britannia's social and industrial history of the UK is a remarkable achievement.
Carly A. Kocurek, Professor of Digital Humanities and Illinois Institute of Technology, author of Coin-Operated Americans: Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade wrote:Arcade Britannia is a sweeping and, at times, tender history of Britain's distinctive arcade and amusement history. Built from extensive interviews, this is a wonderful contribution to more localized understandings of video game and entertainment history.
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Re: Arcade Britannia - A Social History of the British Amusement Arcade

Post by arrgee »

Thanks Mr pm and Bryans Fan - it's now on my Christmas list!
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Re: Hello again!

Post by cait001 »

So looking forward to this book!
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special when lit
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Re: Arcade Britannia - A Social History of the British Amusement Arcade

Post by special when lit »

Currently reading this book. Predictably, 2/3 is about the videogame era, but still some interesting info about 'our' era.
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Re: Arcade Britannia - A Social History of the British Amusement Arcade

Post by jetsetjester »

Great work on the book Alan.

Any access via scanning you can provide to the wonderful life-time work of Nic Costa would be fantastic. An index of machines and people from the industry is definitely needed. It can then be used it as a spring-board for more research.
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