Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

The Rise and Fall of the Arcade

Posted by Rampant Coyote on February 27, 2013

Another great article about the history of the game arcade (primarily in the U.S.A.) –

For Amusement Only: The life and death of the American arcade

While I want to believe in Bushnel, I’d have to agree that I can’t really figure out how the coin-op arcade could make a comeback. It’s a cool idea in that it brought people together (kinda), but I don’t really remember the arcade being an overly social experience. I wasn’t too involved in the competitive fighting-game scene.

The thing is, today, people bring their arcades with them in their purse or pocket. The systems today are more powerful than last-gen game consoles, let alone the arcade systems of fifteen years ago. I feel sorry for the people who missed out on that experience. It was a wild few years. And as a kid, you expect the entire world to be static, and that the way things are when you are twelve years old are the way they’ll be thirty years later (only with flying cars instead of land-bound ones, and much cooler arcade machines). That’s not how it works.

But here’s the thing: While the arcade is pretty much dead, at least by the standards of the 80s and 90s, it’s not buried. Like the text adventure game, it may never completely go away, so long as boutique manufacturers will still distribute machines. Most cities still have some an arcade or little centers (or movie theaters) with a game room.  Do you know if you have one near you? Have you been?  Maybe it’s not something you do casually anymore, but it could still be something you can turn into An Event. Take your date or your family to the arcade on a Friday night! Okay, if it’s a date, maybe you should take them to a nice dinner, too. 🙂

And while it may not be exactly lucrative, I know there are some possibilities for indies in the arcade-game space.

Filed Under: Links & Tidbits, Retro - Comments: 7 Comments to Read

  • McTeddy said,

    I actually miss the arcade “scene”. While I was never to social to the point of the fighting crowds… I loved being able to interact with people face to face.

    That and those days I was on fire and I had a crowd of people watching me play. Seriously… I miss that feeling.

    But I sure as hell don’t miss the price tags. I remember when arcades were going out of business the prices were over a dollar per play… To heck with that.

  • EagleEye said,

    My searches for indie arcade games come up with completely irrelevant results. Could you give me some pointers on what to search for? I’m interested in creating arcade games.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I was thinking of things like the Winnitron, Torontron, Texatron, other *trons, and BabyCastles which feature indie games promotionally. Also, I was contacted a few years ago by a guy (don’t have the info anymore) who was making a stand-up arcade machine kit which would feature downloadable arcade-style indie games. And I think indies might be able to work out some enterprising ideas of their own along those lines (and maybe in discussion w/ game center owners). There’s a Google+ group called “indie arcades” that might be worth paying attention to. A lot of what’s happening there is using arcade cabinets in a venue to showcase indie games rather than trying to generate coin-op revenue, but who knows what opportunities might be out there?

  • Xenovore said,

    Unfortunately modern technology, with the smartphones and social media, has made us a lot more insular; we’ve got no reasons to go to an arcade. Friends these days just get together at home or on the internet, with their consoles and/or PCs. Or like you mentioned, they’re playing something on their phones (stuff like QONQR).

    I suppose the gaming cafe could be considered the modern equivalent to the arcade; generally stocked with PS3s, XBox360s and occasionally PCs. These seem to be more prevalent overseas than here in the U.S. however.

  • OttoMoBiehl said,

    I wish the arcade would come back. Not only do I miss the games I also miss the ambiance of the places. The hypnotic song that is the combination of attraction modes and demo modes. For some reason when ever I think of arcades of past I want a giant pretzel with cheese and a coke.

    I think if the arcade was ever to make a comeback you’d need to combine it with something else that would entice people to come. I think you’d have to get rid of the coin-per-play model and go with something like play as much as you want for $5. Something like that.

    I don’t know. It’d be nice if they made a comeback but you’d have to bring some nice innovative advances to the experience to attract anybody.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Here in the Salt Lake area we do have a Nicklecade – there’s like a $2.50 “cover charge,” and then all games run on nickles beyond that. Haven’t done it in a while… want to go again soon!

  • OttoMoBiehl said,

    I would so do that!

    Reason #386 to move from Montana…no viable arcades.

    Actually there was an older gentleman who opened up an arcade a number of years ago. He had a bunch of the retro classics. When he was open I went in and played as much as I could. Unfortunately it was beyond me to keep the place open with my meager supply of daily quarters.