Relic: The Video Game Arcade

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Many people get together at the mall to play the latest video games. Some of the earlier arcades had traditional games such as pinball, shooting games, and slot machines. Video game arcade cabinets are often composed of console architecture and generally play one game or a small set of games. Some specialized cabinets are valued at thousands of dollars or more. The video game arcade brought together the unlikely combination of socializing and gaming, and its effects are still prevalent to this very day.

In the late 1970s, games such as Space Invaders (1978) and Galaxian (1979) appeared. By the early 1980s, staples of the video game arcade such as Pac-Man and Centipede were also featured. Many other games also appeared as a result of the exploding popularity of video games.

Video game arcade cabinets started appearing in supermarkets, restaurants, liquor stores, laundromats, and gas stations. Many of these still remain today. Two of the biggest markets for the video game arcade were North America and Japan.

There were several effects as a result of the popularity of the video game arcade: there were video game competitions, a video game-themed parade, and studies on video game champions’ brain waves.

The video game crash of 1983 however put a damper on the surging popularity of the video game arcade, although the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard (which keeps all video game world records) was also founded during the mid-1980s. A similar crash in 1994 forced many video game arcade chains out of business.

By the turn of the millennium, video game arcades started teaming up with bars. The first of these bars was called Barcode and opened in Australia, with another opening in New York in 2000, but these were quickly closed down.

The Barcade was opened in Brooklyn in 2004, and many other video game-themed bars popped up in the early to mid-2000s. During this time, video game arcades transitioned from buying coins to attaching card readers that one can re-use over and over again.

Video games also benefited from newer technology. Motion sensor technology was actually used in the arcade cabinet for Police 911 in 2000, several years before the Xbox Kinect and games such as Just Dance appeared in video game arcades.

Some popular video game arcade/bar hybrids today include Dave and Buster’s, which is primarily located in the United States and Canada, and Round One, which is primarily located in Japan and the United States. These chains also include other forms of entertainment such as bowling, karaoke, darts, billiards, and more.

The video game arcade was one of the first attempts at social gaming. The Internet has largely supplanted the video game arcade, with people often going online to play games from the comfort of their homes.
If you ever want to go out with friends and just have fun, the video game arcade was (and still is) the place
to be.

Also published in Gadgets Magazine March Issue 2017

Words by Jose Alvarez