All posts by Wesley Upchurch

Based out of Columbia, Missouri, Wesley Upchurch is not a typical business professional. Instead of limiting his career options to one specific path, this innovative young entrepreneur has achieved much success in the worlds of entertainment via effective Internet marketing. Wesley Upchurch is the visionary behind entertainment venues The Virtual Arena and Gunther’s Games. The Virtual Arena is a unique concept in group entertainment. There, Wesley Upchurch has updated the typical arcade and instead offers visitors unlimited hourly access to many of today’s top gaming systems including PS3, Nintendo Wii U, and Xbox. Described by Wesley Upchurch as the only LAN gaming Center in Columbia, The Virtual Arena is a safe place for tech savvy teens to unwind. Wesley Upchurch ’s Gunther’s Games is more hands-on family entertainment. There, Wesley Upchurch has outfitted this mid-Missouri staple with attractions to suit any lifestyle. Laser tag, miniature golf, and a token arcade filled with graphically captivating old-school charm make the Family Entertainment Center transcend the typical alley of personal amusement to a family tradition.

Wesley Upchurch Talks about the History of Arcades

Wesley Upchurch is a Certified Internet Web Professional and CIW Professional Designer. He is also the Columbia, Missouri-based visionary behind entertainment venues The Virtual Arena and Gunther’s Games. Recently, Upchurch chatted with the staff of ZRYLW about the history of gaming arcades.

ZRYLW: What got you started learning about arcades?

Wesley Upchurch: Well, I was seriously thinking about going into this business, and knew it would be worth my time to learn some more.

ZRYLW: How far back do arcades go?

Wesley Upchurch: Really, about as far back as carnival midways or boardwalks. As far back as you can think.

ZRYLW: What were some early arcade games?

Wesley Upchurch: Most of them were mechanical games—stuff like shooting galleries, pinball machines, mechanical fortune tellers, things like that.

ZRYLW: In what kinds of places would you typically find arcade games?

Wesley Upchurch: Really, about any place where people have time to kill—laundromats, bowling alleys, supermarkets, bars, truck stops, etc.

ZRYLW: So the games weren’t strictly for kids then?

Wesley Upchurch: No, not at all. It was recreation and fun for anyone, all ages.

ZRYLW: When did a new generation of interactive games start?

Wesley Upchurch: By the 60s, electromechanical games were starting—things like car-race games, flying simulators, gun games—all with projected film for backdrops.

ZRYLW: Were they well-received?

Wesley Upchurch: Yes, they were fun, but pretty limited. They also required a lot of maintenance. Not that many of them left anymore.

ZRYLW: What was the next advance?

Wesley Upchurch: Well, the earliest, really primitive video games came along in the early 70s.

ZRYLW: What were some of those games?

Wesley Upchurch: Computer Space and Galaxy were a couple of early ones, and Pong came along not too much later.

ZRYLW: And so things were off and running with video games…

Wesley Upchurch: Yes, they were. The whole industry of arcade video games really came into its own by the late 70s.

ZRYLW: What were some of those early games?

Wesley Upchurch: That second generation of video games included titles like Galaxian, Space Invaders, Frogger, Pac-Man—that sort of thing.

ZRYLW: Was that when places like Dave and Busters started, too?

Wesley Upchurch: Yes, places like that or Chuck E. Cheese.

ZRYLW: Those are great venues.

Wesley Upchurch: Yes, the idea is to combine restaurants with arcades. “Fun for the whole family,” as they used to say.

ZRYLW: What happened in the 80s?

Wesley Upchurch: Really, by the late 80s, we saw the market begin to drop off.

ZRYLW: Why was that?

Wesley Upchurch: More home game consoles were coming on the market, and it ate into the arcade video games.

ZRYLW: What do you see as the niche for them now?

Wesley Upchurch: I think there will always be a niche for video arcades. They’re just fun places to be, and have a whole social/community aspect to them that isn’t a part of playing video games at home.