The Soviet Arcade Games of Gyumri

In the Central Park of the town of Gyumri, once called Alexandropol after the Czar, and still referred to as "Leninakan" by most locals, across the gorge from the Russian military garrison, and down the hill from the town’s Ferris wheel, is a small, square building with "Attractions - Games" written on the outside. Inside the building are a dozen Soviet-era arcade games and attractions. Give the middle-aged lady who works there 100 drams-worth about 30 cents, and she'll give you a Soviet 15 Kopek coin, enabling you to travel back to 1987 and experience the best in Soviet entertainment technology.

"Snayper-2," a target-practice game
Today, a father and his young son are the only other people in the arcade besides myself and the attendant. The father helps the son shoot targets in "Snayper-2," a target shooting game, then the boy challenges me to race him. This is the only true video game in the room. I control one little car at the bottom of the screen, and the son controls another other. To move the car, I twist the wheel. I have to fully spin the wheel to move the car across the screen. I avoid hitting other cars on the road, and when I crash into them the little 16x16 pixel drawing representing my car goes red and gets a broken wheel. As we're getting to the end of the race, the screen goes blank. The machine hasn't malfunctioned-electricity has gone off in the town.

This game never quite caught on like its famous cousin, Tetris.
"Morskoy Boy-Water War," a submarine simulator

15 kopek coins

Sam is an American Peace Corps Volunteer who lives and works in Aragotsotn Marz. This piece originally appeared on his blog: The views and opinions expressed are his personally and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Peace Corps. 


  1. Armenian marzes need a lot of support and training. People are wonderful, but not much is accomplished because of the mentality, in my opinion.

    Great article. Thanks, Sam. Wonderful description of something which many of us would not even notice :)

  2. Hi Anna,
    Glad you enjoyed the article. I see a lot of potential in the Marzes-both in physical and human capital; but you're right, it does need support, training and education to bring it out and connect it to the globalized economy.

    Peace Corps places ~40 Community and Business Development volunteers in the Armenian Marzes. If you know a business or organization that might be interested in one, you should go to

  3. Hi Sam, keep up the great work that you are doing. I enjoyed reading the write-up and will follow this blog. You are an inspiration to all of us in the Armenian diaspora.

    1. Thanks to Sam, the blog had become active with lively discoveries about undiscovered part of Armenia :)

  4. How many times I have played sea battle. This game is aert of my childhood. Thank you Sam for this post. Good memories for me.

  5. Great post Amerikatsi!
    I love your posts and your interests in developing tourism in Armenia which I share.
    If you come to Yeghegnadzor, please call on us. The local PCVs know us well
    Antoine S. Terjanian
    Vice-Rector for International Development
    Gitelik University
    to read all my letters from Armenia, open

    1. Hi Antoine!

      Thanks for your comment. How are you doing? Very nice to hear again after having chance meeting you in Yeghegnadzor in May 11.

      Say hi to your wife. We had very nice time there.

  6. Virtually any type of arcade game can be played on the internet: first-person shooter games, war games, action arcade games, and even team shooter arcade games.

  7. Players compete against the House directly, adding to the fun. Little known fact -- there exists somewhere in this world a blackjack player's hall of fame. Safe to say that this game's got a cult following

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