If you were a gamer in the late 70’s, you didn’t spend a lot of time browsing the shelves at your favorite electronics retailers. You went to the arcade. These were the places to play games with your friends. In those days home consoles simply tried to emulate what arcade games were doing, because they were so popular, not to mention lucrative.
In case you’re too young to remember, arcades were also a catch-all for birthday parties in the ’80s and ’90s. Parents would load up their minivan with kids, buy a bunch of tokens, and order a handful of disgusting pizzas. It was an easy, albeit expensive, way to host a birthday party. And kids loved it.
And the machines weren’t simply screens with joysticks attached. They often simulated cars, motorcycles, and fighter-jet cockpits. The experience was unique and immersive.
Sadly, arcades are almost extinct. As console technology began to rival arcade machines, and internet gaming became commonplace, gamers migrated into back to their living rooms. A few arcades have managed to avoid extinction, but being a gamer means something different these days.
Who knows? Maybe the future will bring an arcade resurgence. But I wouldn’t start saving my quarters.