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Finding my Inner Child at Musée Mécanique

Welcome to the Musée Mécanique

Welcome to the Musée Mécanique

Imagine a slightly dingy place full of gaming opportunities of all sorts; a place where the Pac-Man arcade machine is the latest in technology. A place filled with fortune tellers and ways to see what the belly dancer does on her day off. And there is a submarine on the backyard too.

No, it isn’t some dodgy underground Russian poker room, but Musée Mécanique, a museum for arcade games. We decided to visit it when I was in San Francisco; I was slightly sceptical at first about visiting a gaming arcade, but I figured why not, it’s about the American culture after all, right!

Entrance to Musée Mécanique

Entrance to Musée Mécanique

There is loads of games in the Musée Mécanique

There is loads of games in the Musée Mécanique

I got loads of bubble gum from this one

I got loads of bubble gum from this one

We got in and we changed few notes to quarters (side note: I love quarters, they are way better than the 20 pence coins that we have in UK) and we started going around the place inserting quarters into random machines. And it wasn’t long before I was hooked! The games are just so much fun!

It’s a museum, but one in which you’re supposed to play with the exhibition pieces; they just happen to be arcade games from the past 100 years.

Yup, you heard me right, arcade games from the past hundred years!

And here you thought arcades were an invention of the 1970s.

You have more modern video games like Pac-Man and Star Wars, alright so ‘modern’ being a relative term here. And then you also have mechanical games, like bowling, shooting and the likes of Whac-A-Mole which was originally developed already in 1976.

Good old Star Wars

Good old Star Wars

This shooting game wasn't quite modern 3D

This shooting game wasn’t quite modern 3D

There's also bowling

There’s also bowling

Some of the games actually go back surprisingly long, for example did you know tha Skee ball was originally developed in 1909! Alright, so maybe the first version didn’t have the electronic scoring system, but still. That is starting to be one old game there.

There are ‘games’ made from toothpicks, and quite a few old naughty machines, like “what does a belly dancer do on her day off”, raunchy stuff back in the day!

See what a belly dancer does on her day off

See what a belly dancer does on her day off

It seems there was fascination for naughty things back in the day

It seems there was fascination for naughty things back in the day

Skee Ball is a classic

Skee Ball is a classic

There were also a few slightly more modern games, like this Indiana Jones pinball

There were also a few slightly more modern games, like this Indiana Jones pinball

Ms. Pac-Man is a classic

and of course Ms. Pac-Man

Then of course you have your fortune telling machines and machines telling you how much in love you are!

You might not know every machine in the place, but the odds are some of the machines will bring back memories from your childhood, no matter where you are from.

Apparently you can make all sorts of things out of tooth picks

Apparently you can make all sorts of things out of tooth picks

Tips for visiting Musée Mécanique:

  • The museum is located on the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco
  • Entrance is free, but games cost a quarter, there is a money changing machine
  • Go on, play some silly games, you know want to!
See, I wasn't kidding, there is a submarine

See, I wasn’t kidding, there is a submarine

What’s your favourite arcade game?

4 Comments

  1. One of my favorite places in San Francisco. Great black and white shots!

    • Thanks :) I was really happy with how the shots turned out. Loved the place!

  2. I just added a photo of the Musee Mecanique to my last blog post; check it out!
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  3. Awesome! I think Musée Mécanique is one of the best and interesting places to go to in San Francisco. I’m not much of a game person but looking at the photos of the different games you posted makes want to try everything. But I think there’s one that I’m so excited to play, that would be the Pac-Man game. My kids will really be amazed with this museum for arcade games and they would be dreaming of the arcade games to be played here. I also love the way you took your photos, it is so fantastic. This is one great place that should not be missed when going to San Francisco. Thank you for sharing this to us!