Most know New York City for being a city full of attractions and entertainment, a city that never sleeps. But what you might not consider in the lump-label of entertainment was New York City had a thriving Video Game Arcade Culture. One such arcade is IMS Member, Chinatown Fair.
Before it’s reopening under new management, Lonnie Sobel, it was said to be “the last of its kind” in terms of arcades. It was a sanctuary for teens and the transgender community according to the filmmakers behind the documentary “The Lost Arcade,” calling it “one of the only places they felt accepted.”
Chinatown Fair, before the shutdown caused by rising rent pricing, was an old school arcade that was coin operated with wall-to-wall Japanese street fighter games, and on peculiar and very specific attraction: a succession of chickens that took on gamers at tic-tac-toe. Al Pacino’s 1984 Movie, “Falling in Love” prominently featured the talented chicken, as well as the arcade itself.
Lonnie Sobel in 2012 reopened Chinatown Fair and brought it into the modern age. You’ll find modern arcade games yes, but he is trying to turn it into something more family oriented. It can be described as a blend of Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Busters. He still wants it to be a place where youth and families alike can find fun and sanctuary.
You can find more of Chinatown Fair’s history in multiple magazines and films, some of which include The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Daily News.
Chinatown Fair joined the ranks at IMS in 2014 and many of the members have found that fun and entertainment there. Though Lonnie regrets the tic-tac-toe chickens are no longer there, there is still fun to be had.
So the next time you are in New York City, head over to Motts street and look for the sign that says “Video Games. Video Games. World Famous Dancing & Tic-Tac-Toe Chickens.”