Dorky’s Arcade brings retro gaming downtown

The corner of South Ninth Street and Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma has turned into a gamer’s paradise thanks to Tacomans Les Voros-Bond and Caroline Dennewith. The couple opened Dorky’s Arcade on Sept. 18 in hopes of finding others who like to spend time (and lots of quarters) experiencing again the fun of classic video game and pinball machines.

If you spent any time during the 1980s in video game arcades, many titles at Dorky’s will be very familiar: Galaga, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Star Wars, Spy Hunter, and Asteroids.

Voros-Bond and Dennewith say they are slowly bringing the arcade up to speed: beer should be served in the coming weeks; they hope to expand into a large space adjacent to the arcade; and they would like to rotate the roster of games every month.

Still, in these tough economic times, stopping by Dorky’s for some fun and cheap entertainment is a great way to burn through a lunch hour during the day or spend a Saturday night.

The Tacoma Daily Index recently spoke with Voros-Bond about the arcade.

ON THE IDEA TO OPEN AN ARCADE IN DOWNTOWN TACOMA

We’ve been working on it for about three years now. We started collecting games, started getting overrun with games, and thought it would be really cool to have a place like this, like Shorty’s in Seattle. Anytime I am in Seattle, you can’t keep me away from Shorty’s. I figured Tacoma needs something like that. We want to have at least 100 machines in here. Right now we have seven pinball machines and 13 video games.

ON FUTURE PLANS FOR THE ARCADE

We opened September 18. The plan is to serve beer and grilled cheese sandwiches. Be the cheesiest place in Tacoma. That’s our motto. Our whole goal is to spread this out into 6,000 square feet of space adjoining us and have over 100 arcade games all together. We’re shooting for about 30 pinball machines and a variety of the best of the best arcade games. Stuff that you remember from when you were a kid and say, ‘I haven’t seen this in years! I have to put a quarter in it!’ I’ve gotten a lot of that already with the games we have. One of the things we want to do once we get this place fully running is I want to start buying more and fixing them up. I want to have a spot on the floor for a new machine every month. It will be there for a month. Play it now because it will be gone in a month. That will keep people coming back to see what the new machine is.

ON THE DRAW OF RETRO ARCADE GAMES

Just the nostalgia. The era of the games. It’s all people that are my age and your age. We grew up with these games. Now we are old enough to go to bars. We used to hang out at the arcade, now we hang out at a bar. Well, why don’t we hang out at a bar arcade and be like kids? That’s why we call it Dorky’s. I want people to come in here and act like kids. I want people to have fun and not be too serious. I’ve seen people just get big smiles on their faces when they see the games and they just lose it. A lot of these games are way better on the home systems like Xbox and PlayStation 3. But you can’t relive the classic experience.

ON FAVORITE ARCADE GAMES

My favorite game in here right now is Spy Hunter. I’ve grown to appreciate Asteroids more. I never played it a lot when I was young because there were a bunch of other games. But I started playing it and, you know what, it’s pretty darn cool!

Dorky’s Arcade, located at 754 Pacific Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call (253) 627-4156.

"I want people to come in here and act like kids," says Les Voros-Bond of Dorky's Arcade. "I want people to have fun and not be too serious. I've seen people just get big smiles on their faces when they see the games and they just lose it." (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengers; third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright; and second-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State. His work has also appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.