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The Eerie World of Abandoned Arcade Games

by Computer Sumo / August 25, 2016

It is to our great benefit and frustration that nature always reclaims its children. Whatever we as humans create, whether technical, mechanical, or structural, is destined to turn to dust some day. As it turns out, the same thing goes for arcade video game machines — heavy electronic boxes that often get left behind when a building becomes derelict.

It’s a weird juxtaposition to see high technology (and especially entertainment technology) in a state of decay, because such an image goes directly against the sunny marketing narratives we’re bombarded with every day. Those messages tell us that human products are durable and well-designed, and they imply a better life or a better future. But like anything that has been neglected, technology rots away. When it comes to entropy, nature chooses no favorites.

Over the past decade, daring hobbyists called urban explorers have been documenting the world of abandoned buildings, often sharing photos of their journeys online. On the way, they’ve come across arcade video games that are slowly crumbling away, succumbing to those natural forces. And like rubberneckers at an accident scene, our morbid curiosity gets the best of us and we can’t look away.

Beyond that, there’s another message we can take away from the images ahead: We must care for what we have, or we risk losing it. Preservation is an active process that takes time and attention. With that in mind, I have assembled a collection of photos that showcase the talents of the daring photographers who explore these abandoned places, sending back vivid reminders of what happens if we simply stop caring.