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Death of the arcade June 6, 2008

Posted by Al in : games,personal , trackback

It’s sad to say, but this article is quite right in reporting the sad demise of the videogame arcades of old. When I was a kid it was a treat to go to an arcade to play Defender, Battlezone, Tempest or even Star Wars (if you were lucky). When I was old enough to have some money and some transport then whole afternoons and evenings were spent playing Wonder Boy, Tekken, Sega Rally and pinball. When I could get into bars then pinball was once again something worth travelling for – The Cricketers in Swansea always had the latest and best pinball machines, and then The Antelope had a pinball (whose name I can’t remember – but was something to do with dragons) then I would often spend all night playing.

I was lucky enough to become friends with the staff and managers of one of the best arcades in Swansea, at Mumbles Pier, and spent many an hour there honing my skills on hundreds of video games. I even went to the Earls Court trade show, around 1993 or 1994, and saw an incredible amount of video games that were being developed and tested. But this was about the time when the industry was really starting to suffer, and of the hundreds of new games I saw in that show, I only saw 4 or 5 afterwards.

It’s terrible to think that this world has gone, probably for good. The rise of the games console marked the end for arcades, but whilst arcade machines had more processing power, memory and far superior graphics the arcades still had a chance. When consoles matched, or even exceeded arcade games in these capacities then the days of the arcade was numbered. I think what finally sounded the death knell was the rise of online gaming. One thing arcades were good for was showing off to friends: if you could do all the ending moves in Mortal Combat then you could walk tall and proud. Now you can defeat people around the world without leaving the comfort of your own home, and it’s possible to gain more recognition online than you would ever gain in an arcade.

It saddens me to see arcades closing, but I’m as guilty as anyone of preferring to sit on my comfy sofa and play my PS3 on my nice LCD TV, without the smells and the noise of an arcade, and without having to relinquish the game to someone else waiting for their turn. I will miss arcades, but more out of nostalgia than from any desire to return to them again.


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