Service Games

Japanese arcades are like common rooms for gamers: no entry fee, no cover charge – and… no staff?!

The staff are always there – you just don’t see them. In Taito Hey it’s because the place is a warren: you can rummage in the dark for hours and never find the service counter.

In Sega Kabukicho it’s because the hotspot shoppers need service at the UFO catchers: gamers are left unsupervised.

In Game P&P in Jimbocho it’s because the owner, though everpresent at the counter of his tiny one-room arcade, is engrossed in the tabloids.

But here at Sega Takenotsuka, it’s different. You step through sliding doors to a brightly lit concierge desk. I thought a bellboy was going to take my bags.

To be fair, those big game centres with hidden staff are peppered with call buttons to summon assistance. Japanese customer service is a matter of discretion after all.

As a game centre, Sega Takenotsuka is fun and pretty clean. Some of the slickness of the mainstrip Segas but still with some local flavour and a relatively innocent, school-age clientele. Modern stuff, not retro, but with a relaxed enough atmosphere to give it a go.

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people