If you like the Netflix series Stranger Things, you might have noticed the children from the fictional region of Hawkins in Indiana, spending a fun time in a place filled with children and video games in big box-like cabinets. The place the children were hanging out playing video games is known as an arcade. Arcades gained popularity in the 1980s and were the cool place where kids and video game lovers used to spend most of their free time.
A traditional or classic arcade has a few defining characteristics. First, there are a variety of video games, and sometimes pinball machines. Other than perhaps a vending machine, traditional arcades do not serve beverages or food. Traditional arcades are dark so that players can see the screens of the video games easily and have a better gaming experience. Another characteristic of traditional arcades is that they are predominantly occupied by noisy children who spend one quarter after another enjoying their favorite games.
Unfortunately, it seems that there are no traditional arcades still in operation nowadays. If you are interested in playing traditional video games today, you will most likely have to look for family-friendly establishments that also act as restaurants or bars such as Lucky’s Bar & Arcade.
As much as arcades are ingrained in popular culture and most adults’ memories, they had a relatively short time of popularity and prosperity. Video game arcades trace their humble origin back to the year 1971, then the initial commercially-produced, video game operated by coins, Computer Space, was designed by Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell. Although at the time, Computer Space was seen by many as an epic failure, its sales allowed Dabney and Bushnell to establish their company, Syzygy Engineering, which later became Atari Inc after a restructuring helped on by National Recovery Agency. In 1972, Atari produced Pong, their first game which became quite successful. So successful, in fact, that many people consider Pong the father of video game arcade. Pong was hugely influential in making video game arcade accessible to the population and sparked the beginning of the business of home video game consoles. Soon after, many other companies followed suit and there were more than a dozen companies in America creating video game cabinets by the year 1975.
The new technology of video game arcades was advancing by leaps and bounds, and soon included the use of microprocessors. In 1978, Space Invaders was released by Tomohiro Nishikado, quickly becoming a sensation across the globe. Soon after, many successful games were released, such as Defender, Berzerk, Galaxian, and Asteroids. Over the following several years, the juggernaut video game arcade business would become hugely successful, and in 1981, reached its peak. The growth of the industry was huge as a result of the release of Pac-Man in 1980, which is the most loved video arcade game of all time.