A setting not seen as much these days due to their decline - thanks to home consoles and Internet cafés - this is where all the kids used to go to play their video games. Rows of them, in big, gloriously fashioned cabinets. Often in darkly lit rooms to let the video displays shine and maintained in states from squalid to pristine, the machines flash and burble to themselves even when not being played. More recent examples often feature Dance Dance Revolution-style fun. Special mention must go to arcades as locations in video games. See also Suck E. Cheese's. Pac-Man Fever optional.
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Anime & Manga
- The characters in Sailor Moon often hang out at the Crown game center. In the live-action series it was changed to a karaoke parlor, but it was kept in Sailor Moon Crystal since arcades are still relatively popular in Japan.
- A video arcade features prominently in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, where Kyouko is proficient in a DDR-esque dance game.
- Lupin III: Dragon of Doom begins with Jigen and Lupin hanging out in one. Lupin's preoccupied trying to get the Lupin doll from the Claw game.
Film — Animation
Film — Live Action
- A montage of arcades in the movies can be seen here.
- TRON features an odd mix of arcade machines of the period and ray-traced 3D extravaganzas which could have existed only in the last 10 years.
- Justified since the movie was set 20 Minutes into the Future.
- TRON: Legacy revisits the same arcade, assuming the time to be The '80s.
- The Jackie Chan film City Hunter has a scene set in the arcade on a cruise liner, where Jackie gets thrown into a Street Fighter II machine and absorbs the personas of some of the game characters.
- Joysticks, a teen sex comedy.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day, where John Connor is playing the slightly anachronistic but thematically appropriate Missile Command.
- Double Dragon
- Arcade (no, really)
- "The Bishop of Battle" segment in Nightmares (1983). Most of the action takes place in a video arcade.
- The arcade in The Wizard, perhaps best known for the infamous "He touched my breasts!" scene.
- Never Say Never Again has an arcade apparently sponsored by Atari, as it contained virtually nothing but Centipede.
- The Karate Kid
- Adventureland is set in an arcade in an amusement park.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World includes an arcade scene with a Dance Dance Revolution parody called Ninja Ninja Revolution.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), this is a place without parental supervision were underage kids smoke cigars (!) and the Foot Clan recruits new members.
- RoboCop 2 features an arcade where all the machines are from Data East, who were responsible for the Robocop videogames.
- In Southland Tales, Justin Timberlake's disfigured World War III vet deals illegal psychic drugs from an arcade. After he gets high on his own supply, he enters the mindscape, spontaneously erupts into the Bridge of "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers, and psychically forgives his friend for wounding him in a friendly-fire incident. In the background, his militiamen - all of them in military uniforms - happily take up their light guns and blast away at the arcade cabinets.
- Time Twister by Ged Maybury has many scenes set in a video arcade, as the eponymous game machine is the device around which the plot is built.
Live Action TV
- In the pilot of NUMB3RS, Charlie and Larry meet in an arcade on campus at Calsci, where Larry gives Charlie some advice on the current case, while simultaneously getting a high score on his current game.
- The second series of StrangerThings starts with the group visiting their local arcade, playing Dragon's Lair and meeting the soon-to-be newest member of the group.
- Shenmue features at least one arcade per game so far. Along with a few diversions like dart boards and whatnot, they also include fully playable cabinets for games like Space Harrier, Hang On and Afterburner II.
- Maniac Mansion has the arcade-in-game version.
- The paradigm for Xbox Arcade Live.
- Both EarthBound and its sequel MOTHER 3 have arcades in Onett and New Pork City, respectively.
- There's a plot-relevant one on the wharf in Wishbringer.
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the brothers can visit an arcade in Little Fungitown.
- In the Tokimeki Memorial series, the Arcade Center is a staple dating location.
- Streets of Rage 2 featured a video arcade in one level. The arcade machines could be smashed to drop power-ups.
- Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: In the Neon Mixtape Tour world, your lawn turns into one when there's a huge wave of Arcade Zombies pushing entire columns of arcade machines in. Taken even further during an 8-bit Jam, where the arcade machines flash, make noises, and start spawning 8-bit zombies from them.
- LEGO Dimensions has one in the Midway Arcade expansion, complete with a real-world buildable arcade machine that can be inserted into the game to play fully-emulated versions of classic Midway arcade games such as Rampage, Spy Hunter, and Road Blasters.
- Overwatch has arcade cabinets in several attackers' spawn rooms. Hanamura in particular has an entire Japanese game center for an attack spawn. Genji remarks about how he used to spend his days there and D.Va gloats about her high scores.
- The ending sequence of Golden Axe has the game characters bursting out of an arcade machine and into an arcade.
- The Simpsons: Bart will still occasionally hang out in one, playing such games as "Escape from Grandma's House II" and "Hockey Dad". In a Flash Back episode to the early 1980s, a group of kids go play a video game version of "Kick the Can", and a Mumbly Peg arcade machine can be seen in the background.
- On Steven Universe, Steven frequently goes to the arcade in Beach City. Interestingly, games like Meat Beat Mania are portrayed very realistically and modernly. They get a lot of the small details down right, such as the time counting down for the player to deposit more tokens to continue playing.
- Gravity Falls has an arcade, complete with Dance Dance Revolution, albeit one that's closed down. That doesn't stop some residents from jigging.
- Video arcades remain popular in Japan, where they are known as game centers.
- There are usually at least two in any small town, one in the bowling alley and one in the movie theater, so that young teens out with their friends might entertain themselves and spend their money whilst waiting for their parents to come pick them up after their movie/game is over.