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Retro arcade exhibit opens in San Diego, no quarters needed

The Fleet Science Center is located at 1875 El Prado San Diego, CA 92101

Remember when video arcades dominated the globe and children and adults everywhere ditched their responsibilities to spend their quarters in strip malls playing “Donkey Kong” “Asteroids” or “Centipede?”

If you don’t, that might be because home video games systems are now the norm in most households with a multitude of consoles available, whereby the need to travel beyond the couch or game room is no longer pertinent. 

But back in the 80’s and up through the mid 90’s, video arcades dined on your quarters. They were watering holes for everyone who wanted a social challenge by way of communal joysticks sans hand sanitizer. 

This nostalgia has returned to the Fleet Science Museum in their wonderful “Game Masters” exhibit running through January 2018.

Fleet has created an ingenious hi-tech time machine with a digital Darwinian feel. Each step a trek into the evolutionary periods of binary code, from 8-bit to quad core. 

Your first stop in this yellow brick road of technology is a fully-playable replica of a CRT-screened, cabinet stocked arcade of yesteryear, the only difference is you won't need to make change because all the machines are in freeplay mode.

After spending as much time as you want with "Pac Man," "Donkey Kong" and "Space Invaders" to name a few, you progress through the exhibit where the equipment becomes more modern as do the games. 

On display are the Nintendo DS, the Sega Genisis, Playstation, Wii, and pretty much any other console you can remember.

Further in, point-and-click takes over with nearly every genre represented, from role playing to action adventures such as “Diablo,” Starcraft” and “Warcraft.” Did I mention they are all playable?

The self-guided tour culminates into the Indie exhibit, a segment that explores the personal side of developers who forgo their big-budget counterparts to make games on a limited budget to publish themselves.

Also in this section, iPads are made playable with games projected onto the walls including "Minecraft" and "Angry Birds." 

But this exhibit isn't just about playable games, there are also displays of artwork, actual programming notes and three-dimensional renderings of creature concepts throughout the show.

Game Masters: The Exhibition is a digital gallery of gaming archeology. But unlike most digs, the explorers here were most likely alive when these artifacts became extinct. 

Game Masters: The Exhibition will be open through Sunday, January 15, 2018, in the main exhibit gallery at the Fleet Science Center.

The Fleet will be open 10 am to 6 pm daily in August, with extended hours on Friday nights for late-night gaming.

The Fleet Science Center is located at 1875 El Prado San Diego, CA 92101