Novelty Automation – London, England - Atlas Obscura

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Novelty Automation

A tongue-in-cheek arcade where the games are based on everyday life. 


An offshoot of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, Novelty Automation is a funhouse filled with homemade retro arcade games, most of them satirical in nature.

Buy your tokens and you can live out dozens of adventures, though not the sort found in traditional arcade games like in Pac-Man or Asteroids. You can practice money laundering. Try to buy a house before you get too old. Fly a drone and snoop on the stars. Operate a nuclear reactor. Go on an all inclusive three minute holiday. Win a Nobel prize. Get divorced. All for £27.

These irreverent penny games are based on historic British automata. While French and German automation tended toward the artistic, British automata were decidedly silly, sometimes even vulgar. Inventor Tim Hunkin based his games on British clockwork automata of the 18th and 19th centuries, which had names like “The Miser’s Dream” and “The Drunk In The Graveyard.”

Novelty Automation carries on this tradition of pier amusements, where for just a penny the machinery comes to life to entertain you.

Know Before You Go

Buy tokens to play the machines. It costs £27 for 34 tokens, enough to play them all. It's easy to get to, just five minutes walk from Holborn underground Station.

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