Not long ago, if a person wanted to play a video game they had to leave home and head to an arcade. Now, even though players have access to games on consoles, computers, and cell phones, the attraction remains for those big stand-up games with their bright screens and playfields.
While it’s not unusual to find a machine tucked into the corner of a business here and there, Bellingham is home to a few spots that have gathered multiple games together. Here’s a helpful list.
The Ruckus Room
1423 Railroad Avenue in Bellingham
Perhaps the closest thing to an old-school arcade, the Ruckus Room is also probably the most kid-friendly local gaming destination. A great vintage hockey game, laid out like a foosball game, greets you at the front of the room. A row of stand-up video games faces another row of pinball machines, and you’ll also find a few seated driving games.
Towards the back of the room is a good selection of games that are less computer-driven, and more likely to engage the youngest of players. Many of them pay out paper tickets, which can be traded at the counter for toys and goodies from brightly lit glass display cases.
20th Century Bowl
1411 North State Street in Bellingham
Although the room is dominated by several lanes of bowling, other attractions beckon, including beer on tap for the adults. If the clatter of bowling balls knocking down pins isn’t loud enough for you, you’ll find a good old-fashioned air hockey table nestled in its own corner nook.
Along the back wall is a fine selection of eight pinball machines, which makes sense according to General Manager Michael Salinger. “A lot of bowlers have a thing about pins and balls. In fact, most of the league bowlers also play in our pinball tournaments. ”
1255 Barkley Boulevard in Bellingham
Most of the real estate at Reset Games is taken up by the new world of gaming, with rack after rack of games for home systems and accessories for the home gamer. But you’ll also find seven pinball machines at the ready and four stand-up arcade games, including a shooter featuring model guns used to fight the bad guys. Two motorcycle racing games offer model motorcycles that the player sits on to beat opponents around the racetrack, and a four-player, sit-down Pac Man game can also be played.
The Racket – Bar & Pinball Lounge
1220 North State Street in Bellingham
21 years of age and older only
Downstairs at the Racket, you walk into a full-service bar with a great food menu. But head up the stairs and you’ll find a long room lined with more than a dozen games. Some visitors might be interested in the vintage Joust video game, but most players make the pilgrimage here to take advantage of the largest selection of pinball machines in town – and to compete in weekly tournaments.
Deathsave Pinball Cult at the Karate Church
519 East Maple Street in Bellingham
You might guess from their name that the Deathsave Pinball Cult is a shadowy cabal of mysterious figures that avoid detection. But the truth is that they’re a group of enthusiasts at work on a number of pinball-centered projects. It’s currently only open to the public on Mondays from 6 pm to 10 pm, but that’s a great opportunity to make contact with the pinball world versions of gearheads.
“We play pinball, but we fix the machines too,” says Cult Member Geoff Jensen. “It’s inclusive, so people who don’t have a lot of knowledge are welcome to come by and learn.”
Deathsave has recently moved some machines into Fairhaven’s 1Up Lounge (all ages until 7 pm, and 21+ after) and have plans to make more games available to the public in the near future.
1305 Commercial Avenue in Bellingham
This brand-new – and already popular – downtown attraction has a single pinball game, but also features the most unique video games in town. Proprietor Mo Green makes all sorts of things, from beauty products to competition-level cosplay gear, and she’s also created a couple of table-top arcade machines that feature a variety of games.
“It’s fun to be able to play for free,” says customer and Tetris wizard Alicia Torres, “and like everything else here, it’s super nerdy and great.”
Grand Avenue Ale House
113 Grand Avenue in Bellingham
21 years of age and older only
At first glance, the back room at the Grand appears to be a good spot to play pool, but a closer look reveals a variety of games. In addition to the full bar and kitchen, players at the Grand will find a shooting game, a golf game, and a pinball machine. And, along with the Beaver Inn at 115 East Holly Street in downtown Bellingham, a rare, honest-to-goodness Skee-Ball game.