In the 1950s and 60s pinball machines were the pinnacle of arcade game technology. But with the advent of Pong in 1972 the gaming landscape changed dramatically from raw mechanical manipulation to seemingly unlimited electronic bliss. The pioneers of the video gaming industry had no way of comprehending the size or scope of the Genie they had so unknowingly released. The founders of companies like Atari and Namco could not have possibly understood the lasting impact they would make on our lifestyles and culture. Now, it is hard to even imagine a world without Space Invaders, Pac-Man, or Donkey Kong. But even these titles are slowly fading into obscurity.
The rise and fall of the public video game arcade is a story that is truly epic in proportion. Though some may argue that the arcade experience of today far surpasses that of 20 or 30 years ago, I would beg to differ. In the early days of the video game arcade, we were dazzled by technology that we would be laughable by current gaming standards. Nonetheless, I would contend that there is much more to the gaming experience than the capability of a microprocessor or the memory capacity of a graphics card. Video game arcades in the 1970s were much more than that. They were the epicenters of adolescent culture, at least for much of the male species. Where else could you come with a handful of quarters and leave an hour later with pure adrenaline pulsing through your veins? Ok, maybe you should not answer that question. The point being, even though the token consuming monsters in a modern arcade may be able to boast of their superior technology, they certainly are not any more or less fun than the originals.
In fact, it is we who have changed. Once we all owned a PC, the days of the local video game arcade were numbered. Like so many other aspects of our culture, we have consistently chosen to forgo our need for human interaction for some form of cheap technological substitute. As if our addiction to TV was not bad enough, the current availability and variety of PC games has the potential to send us all into perpetual seclusion. Though multiplayer games can often link us up through a network or online, the overall enjoyment of the experience still pails in comparison to standing next to your buddy elbow to elbow slamming buttons. I think it is time to get back out there and indoor playground equipment make the gaming experience truly interactive again. Maybe the graphics are not as rich. Maybe it will cost us a little more. Still, most big arcades and family fun centers offer chances to compete with one another the old fashioned way. If Dance Revolution wears you out, try bowling or air hockey. You might be surprised by the redemptive value of a night out with a good group of friends. It has been said that the quality of our life is directly related to the quality of our relationships. I would wholeheartedly concur. If you need help finding a local video game arcade in your area, you might want to check out the links listed below.
Arcade Pages is a directory for locating California video arcades and Los Angeles video arcades