Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Indie In Arcade Cabinets

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 13, 2016

arcade_jayThe arcade is dead. Well, mostly.  There are a couple of them still around in my area, which I need to go to more frequently, because it’s FUN and I want to support them. But these delightful places that in some ways defined my youth are no longer a thing. A going concern. Like phone booths and cassette tapes, these once-constant elements of daily western life have all but disappeared, now serving only in a minimal capacity.

But for many game developers who remember that era (and even some who don’t), seeing our games in an arcade cabinet remains a weird aspiration. It’s not even purely a nostalgia thing. It’s the concept of having your game out there in a public venue, where anyone can walk up and play it, anonymously. We get a little bit of that if we have our games up at shows or conventions, but it’s not the same.

Some indies are doing that, and learning a bit from the experience, as found in an article in Gamasutra: Lessons Learned from Porting Indie Games Onto Arcade Cabinets. It’s not just a straightforward thing. An excerpt:

“The arcade is a very different place from the privacy and solitude of most people’s gaming dens. It’s a place of noise and flashing lights, where games compete to attract your attention. Simplicity and approachability is key, here: players need to feel they can jump right in and start playing the game. They need to know at a glance what your game is, and how to play it. A completely unique controller or visual style can also help to set you apart.”

As much as I would like to, I still can’t fathom a practical, profitable reason to make indie games for arcade cabinets. There are really just two reasons. The first is simply “because it’s cool!” Which, as a low-budget, low-overhead indie, might be enough. Based on my limited experience showing my game at public conventions, I think the experience – and actually getting it into an arcade-like venue, open to the public and being able to silently watch how people react – would be like a master’s class in game design.

Something else I’m gonna have to do someday…

Filed Under: Indie Evangelism, Retro - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • McTeddy said,

    I’ve actually been planning to build my arcade machine. Gathered some of the pieces, just waiting for another lengthy break from work before I get to actually building it.

    In fact, I promise that I’ll play Frayed Knights an arcade machine!

    But honestly, I’d say the spirit of the arcade isn’t dead, but it evolved. A community of playing games in public, crowds gathered round to watch over the our shoulders, etc… It’s live streaming in a giant arcade in the cloud.

    Any game you want, played in public for all to watch. Communities that allow streamer and players alike to join into the same game, to take turns at playing the game for all to see.

    Sure, it’s not the same and it really lacks to nostalgia, but it’s also much friendlier on the change purse.