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Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Soon to be Swallowed Piece of Retro Gaming in Chinatown

As some of you might be aware, Retro Game On is based out of Perth, Australia (it does state it under the RGO logo after all). Being a fairly big city, redevelopment is an on-going occurrence with one major project at the moment called the Perth City Link. In a nutshell; this is connecting up Perth's CBD to its closest northern suburb, Northbridge (which is an entertainment district).
Currently, both are separated by a major train line, but once the project is finished the train line will be sunk and they'll be joined together at last (and not segmented from each other). Enough about city planning, though.

A few days ago, I was walking down Roe Street (the road facing the train line on the Northbridge side) and while walking past possibly the world's smallest Chinatown I spotted the sign pictured above at the entrance to Chung Wah Lane. It's a bit faded, but says this:

  • Gaming Centre
  • Counter Strike
  • Playstation 2
  • 2MB Link to Internet
  • Functions

I didn't notice until after I'd taken the photo, but above it (top right) is also a smaller sign that's painted the same colour as the wall. This says 'Licenced'.
I'd never noticed this sign before, let alone the long closed down shopfront, but found it interesting none the less. Presumably, sometime in the early to mid-2000's this place would have been a hotspot for playing Counter Strike, PS2 and who knows what else on a blazing fast (at the time) 2Mb/s ADSL connection - all while enjoying a refreshing beverage (or four). These times are long behind us in this particular spot, along with quite a few other internet cafes around the place. There are still a few holding on, sure, but for the most part, they're sadly a memory in the past - destined to disappear but be looked back on fondly much like the original arcades that preceded it.

I actually didn't take much notice of what's there now (although I probably should have) but comparing it to old photos of Chinatown and Street View, Cyber Net Cafe was used for a little bit more than gaming:

That Street View capture is from the August of 2015, but the newest available is actually from November 2015. I chose to show the August capture, however, because it's the highest resolution available that shows what it looked like for the majority of the last ten years or so. The capture for November shows the sign still intact, but the shops windows are replaced and there was a new coat of paint over everything (presumably readying it for new tenants). The blue and white signage was gone by the time I saw it in person, though, as can be seen in my photo at the top of this post. To get some perspective, my photo was taken from the right of the building, looking towards it where the pictured sign is.
So okay, it wasn't used for that much more than gaming, but as can be seen, they did offer 'email' and 'word processing'. It was truly a different world from today's where you possibly had to physically go somewhere and type up your resume or check your email from your friend abroad on a computer you had to pay time for - but it's fun to look back on regardless.

I have no idea when this opened or even when it closed - a bit of Googling around has proven nothing  substantial to me, but the earliest Street View is capture is from 2007. This shows it completely shuttered up, so whether it was completely closed by then or simply just closed that particular day, I have no idea. But let's hope if they were, their internet connection was a bit quicker by then.
So yeah, sadly I don't have anything too solid on the Cyber Net Cafe's demise, but we can only assume the reasons. 
Soon enough, this whole precinct will undoubtedly get completely revamped thanks to the Perth City Link and not even the sign will be left to prove what was once there. A bit sad really, but that's progress.  

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