Commentary
9:45 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Into It: Arcades

Since the first simple arcade games were developed in the late sixties, the video arcade has fought a war of innovation and marketing with home gaming.

What’s called The Golden Age of arcades was sparked by the 1978 release of Space Invaders. The game was so successful, in fact, that it brought about a shortage of the 100-yen coins used in the Japanese machines.

In the following years, arcades were dominated by single player games like Pac-Man and other missions of skill, whether it was navigating the upward climb in Donkey Kong or scuttling across a busy road in Frogger.

The arcade’s next trick was pitting players not against a digital enemy, but against the friends they came to the arcade with. The widening consoles accommodated two-player games like Double Dragon and the nineties releases of Street Fighter II and Mortal Combat. Meanwhile, companies like Atari and Nintendo released numerous titles for home entertainment.

Today’s arcades are a bit different, primarily filled with redemption and amusement games like Dance Dance Revolution. Home gaming has shifted as well, the majority of console geared toward online interaction.

But the enthusiasm for the original arcade atmosphere can still be found in dive locations across major cities. Inside, the first generation of arcade goers, now all grown up and stocked with money they didn’t beg their parents for, furiously tap away at buttons and wriggle joysticks, settling scores one quarter at a time.

Music: “Black Blizzard / Red Umbrella” by The Octopus Project from Hello Avalanche.

(repeat broadcast from 3/27/12)