I’m crying because our history will be erased before we know it if we don’t act.
There’s an arcade in The Last of Us Part II in which Ellie fights a bloater. It’s a tense encounter, with the scrappy avenger battling the zombie all on her own. The fight’s backdrop of gaming ruins is apparently based on a real spot in Seattle. Now, the real-life arcade, GameWorks Seattle, is reportedly shutting down before the new year begins.
The closure was first reported by GamesRadar along with several Twitter users in the gaming industry who say GameWorks’ closure is imminent. Though they don’t say when, several tweets from users suggest the company will shutter the Seattle location on December 23. Reports also cite a liquidation, supposedly due to financial wrangling and debt payments, though the pandemic likely didn’t help matters.
A supervisor of the Las Vegas location confirmed to Kotaku that the Seattle spot is closing up shop and that GameWorks as a company is shuttering, though they couldn’t say exactly when.
The company-wide closure was also confirmed in a tweet from Get In The Car, Loser! composer Christa Lee. GameWorks has had a long history of mismanagement, as covered in a long November 2020 report by The Verge.
In a Twitter message to Kotaku, Lee said she is “assisting the Video Game History Foundation in preserving what we can of the place.” The manager who spoke with Lee reportedly said the Seattle location “could be managed by the landlord if they were interested,” but it’s unclear if that will happen. Pouring salt on a fresh gash of a wound, Lee said staff at the Seattle location were “only [given] a week’s notice” of GameWorks’ last day.
GameWorks has not publicly said anything about these closures yet. Kotaku reached out to GameWorks for further comment via email and called several locations in addition to the Las Vegas arcade.
Founded in 1996 as a joint venture between DreamWorks, Sega, and Universal Studios, GameWorks served as a hub for video games and entertainment. It was like a proto Barcade before the chain existed. It was also a major esports destination, being one of the few spots the fighting game community frequented. Housing arcade cabinets new and old, GameWorks’ extemporaneous shuttering is another reason why preservation matters.