The End of Infinity – An Arcade Story Mini-documentary

arcadehero February 25, 2011 5

The end of an era will be ending tomorrow when Arcade Infinity in Rowland Heights, CA will be closing it’s doors for the last time. You may recall that when the news first broke about AI’s closure, fans of the arcade came together and organized an event to bring out as many people as possible to celebrate what AI had meant to them over the past ten years.For a short time it appeared that the business might be saved but we recently found out that despite the outcry, bureaucracy reared it’s ugly head and AI will not be able to weather that storm to stay open and as such they are closing this Saturday. In case anyone missed it, they are still selling off their machines to interested buyers.

With the recap out of the way, we now take a look at a great mini-documentary that was put together by gaming journalist Vito Gesualdi, showcasing the tale above, interviewing loyal players and AI owner Ken Tao about what made AI great but also why it is closing. Some excellent points are made throughout the video as to why one would want to go to an arcade in the first place, what can make an arcade special and ultimately why you should support your local arcade (Speaking of that, don’t forget about the ACAM Fundraiser).

Thanks to Vito and the others who put this video together at GameZone! As a note, this was finished before the bad news about the county not issuing a permit came along.



  1. Brent Silby February 25, 2011 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Brilliant. I love the comment about the place not having pimply teenagers collecting tickets for crap prizes. I have always thought that ticket redemption machines have contributed to the demise of arcades.

    Here’s hoping more arcades can tell similar stories of reprise.

  2. editor February 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    Claimed reasons for failure:

    – bad management
    – local ordnance
    – economy


    – bad management (to the point of neglect)
    – new professional local competition (Round 1)

    Once you see how interesting the new venue is down the street – I wonder how many will remember the arcade as anything as a halcyon dream?

  3. Joe February 26, 2011 at 2:39 am - Reply

    @editor: Can you elaborate on the “bad management (to the point of neglect)” comment?

    Also, it is no surprise that the Tao brothers were screwed when Round1 opened up down the street… hard to compete with a corporation from Japan with deep pockets.

  4. editor February 26, 2011 at 9:49 am - Reply

    @Joe: the comment referred to the ordinance confusion, especially the way that the City only recognized the situation when the money rolled in from Round One’s opening! There was also an issue of a venue that has made money from its loyal following all these years but had no serious expansion / re-investment plans until the wolf was at the door.

    To be honest the Round One venue is the final straw – I have charted at least four new amusement machine operators in the area over the last two years, (bowing, cinema CEC etc.,) – the new Round One site is the last of a transition to a full ‘entertainment facility’ mix – rather than living off of a loyal following with no re-investment.

    I am also hunting down some information from sources on a issue of unpaid taxes, but can’t get more details yet? We may run a SoCal feature in coming Stingers.

    • Joe February 26, 2011 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      @editor: Well, it hasn’t been made clear to this point what exactly the “ordinance confusion” (or even the zoning issue) was exactly. Is the Amusement use simply not permitted at AI’s existing location? Did AI violate the terms of their permit in one way or another (operating hours, capacity, etc.)?

      As far as expansion/re-investment goes… they did have several very expensive cabinets (like DJ MAX Technika) and SSFIVAE… and KOFXIII, which I believe is the only one in SoCal (to my knowledge). There is only so much you can do with such a small space, and when your margins are razor-thin to begin with, just how far did you think they could take expansion before it became a serious financial risk to the operation?

      For the record, I have never been to AI and I do not reside in the area, nor do I know the operators.

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