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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