THE PRESS 160 YEARS is a series marking the launch of The Press newspaper in Christchurch on May 25, 1861. Between now and the anniversary, The Press will revisit stories from every year of publication.
It may not look like it, but these two gentlemen are having the time of their lives.
When Wizards arcade opened next to the Isaac Theatre Royal on Gloucester St on July 23, 1982, it was big news. The opening of the games arcade, which The Press quaintly called an “amusement centre”, had been delayed for three months by a High Court injunction brought by a rival video games operator.
Doors finally opened at 4pm on a Friday.
“By 4.20pm, it was virtually standing room only round the 60 video machines, and the numbers kept up well into the evening.
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“By 7pm, more than 300 people, mostly aged between 10 and 16, crammed into the centre to tackle video games many had not seen before.”
The Press described the new-fangled video games in some detail. There was “Wild Western”, in which the player was a sheriff shooting Indians. In “Flyboy”, the player pilots an electronic hang-glider while avoiding obstacles. “K.O. Punch” was a boxing game. In “Jungle King”, the player “saves beautiful girls from the barbarians”. “Alpine Ski” was self-explanatory.
“The centre’s manager, Mr Alan Nobbs, said that he had expected a big crowd on the opening night, but not as many as had arrived. His eight staff, including a security officer who kept a watch on the door, had been run off their feet.”
Wizards entertained thousands before it closed in 1999. The building that housed it was demolished after the 2011 earthquake.
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