The Rise and Fall of Arcades, will they ever make a comeback?

Arcades have been around in various forms since the 1920’s. They evolved from Coney Island amusement parks featuring shooting galleries to ball tossing. Through the 20th century they took on alternate forms with pinball  and fortune telling machines taking the lead. In 1972, Atari was formed and created the infamous “pong” coin op game.

A revolution would soon follow and before you knew it, arcades were around every corner in the late 70’s and 80’s. In addition to restaurants and video arcades, arcade games are also found in bowling alleys, college campuses, dormitories, laundromats, movie theaters, supermarkets, shopping malls, airports, truck stops, bar/pubs, hotels, and even bakeries.
I remember my grandad having the Berzerk arcade in his “bodega” .

As fast as they appeared, they began to disappear in the 80’s.  By the late-1980s, the arcade video game craze was beginning to fade due to the reputation of arcades as being seedy, unsafe places as well as the advances in home video game console technology.  Why should one visit arcades and plop down quarters, when they can experience something similar at home?

I honestly beg to differ, there is nothing like playing on an arcade machine. From the controls, to the actual cabinets as well as the interaction with other players. One can learn many things from the social interaction in arcades.

Ok, you might not meet the Konami girls at arcades, but you catch my drift…..

One must consider the social aspect of gaming as part of the experience. Ok, these days, one can sign up on Xbox Live and play someone in Japan or somewhere in Guam. That is a nice, new element added to gaming. However, nothing can surpass walking up to a Street Fighter 2 arcade game and defeating some arrogant derelict who just won 15 matches in a row. The pressures and drama are unparalleled with any type of home experience. Beating a stranger, “in person” gives one the best possible feeling of triumph!

I remember my brother Juan, destroying the current champion and humiliating any new comers in the Virtual Tennis Arcade game in Sportsworld in Paramus, NJ. He walked away from the game after many many wins and people began whispering, “Wow he was awesome!”

Arcades have taken newer forms lately, I have seen internet cafe’s with a gaming twist. LAN parties where one can play Halo with other folks attending the cafe. I have even seen gaming consoles included, with games on hand to rent and play at the location. These hybrids will probably become more prevalent then the older style of arcades that we were experienced 20 years ago.  The only variations that one sees these days of the older model is many dance-dance-revolution, driving or shooting games mixed in with a Pac-man or Donkey Kong for nostalgia purposes.

Therefore my conclusion is the following, Arcades hit their peak and have lost their fury. Newer technologies at home have made the technical aspects of arcades obsolete, however socially, arcades still deliver an experience that cannot be matched elsewhere!

If you’re in the NJ/NY/PA area, my recommendation for a classic gaming experience would be Richie Knucklez..

Tell Richie sent you…


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5 responses to “The Rise and Fall of Arcades, will they ever make a comeback?”

  1. mrjuandrful says:

    Great Article, I always wanted loved going to the arcades but with the flexibility of playing from home, people migrated to the Home Entertainment system.

    Honestly nothing beats playing at an arcade and putting your quarter up on the screen showing “you got next”. It’s Arcade etiquette!

  2. […] very first  post on, was the top 5 arcade style game controllers. It was a very successful article which garnered many hits and comments. I wanted to follow up with […]

  3. sander says:

    thanks ever I won’t forget it

  4. Simon Taylor says:

    Sorry but I disagree. Last time I used an arcade machine (here in U.K.) , It was an arcade inside a Bowling Alley complex & it was between £1 + £3 per shot of each machine, which would have been roughly $1.70 + $5.10 a pop and this was around 1994-95! Nearly 20 years ago!!! I found it really expensive & pockets were emptied after 1 hour of play. That is exactly why these arcades are practically extinct here in Europe. When I left that arcade I felt i’d been robbed. There was no feeling of fun or elation, I just thought what a total rip-off. Because of the pricing, there was not another person in the arcade, just me & 2 pals and they didn’t play anything because of the cost. If they had made the cost to play each machine equivalent of $1 a shot then place would be busy with folks trying out games but folk just thought the pricing was way, way too steep. I don’t miss arcades at all, except the ones in early 1980’s that were cheap to play.

  5. Andrew says:

    Disagree also. Hated the very competitive nature writer describes where some expert cnuts would hog machines and look down their noses at newbs trying to just enjoy a game. Loved arcades but when I actually went I hated it

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