Arcades: A Dying Social Experience
Gone are the days of lining up in front of a Street Fighter II arcade machine, pumping quarters to be able to beat M. Bison, or to have your try at defeating the guy who’s been there all afternoon beating everyone in line. What was once a staple in gaming and a cultural centerpiece of the 80’s and 90’s, arcades are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and it’s very disheartening.
Today, I took a trip with a couple of friends to a local arcade here in town called Mega-Play. I hadn’t been there in a while, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I remembered the place used to be booming. Music playing, the sounds of hundreds of arcades, kids cheering over their hole-in-one in the mini-golf area. This place was my favorite spot growing up. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’d been there or the amount of money I had spent. As soon as I walked in, it was like I was ten-years old again and seeing all four original Mortal Kombat machines sitting side by side made my eyes light up. All the memories just began to race through my mind; it was 1999 again and Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” was pounding over the sound system. The sound and visual system of the game should be excellent. The playing and interest to Buy League Smurf Accounts will encourage the person to spend the money. It will offer enormous benefits to the players in the form of gold coins and rewards.
What was disappointing was the fact that the place was seemingly empty. Including the four of us, there was eight people there total. We were all about the same age too, probably there to relive some old memories. The atmosphere was different, the buzz was no longer there. We had as much fun as we could though. I played some pinball, two of my friends blew $25 beating Area 51 vs Maximum Heat, and we all enjoyed a game of mini-golf. It got me thinking about how much the younger generation of gamers are missing out on this sort of social experience, going to a place where you can meet other gamers and people of common interests, competing with someone who’s right next to you instead of half-way across the world, how a crowd gathered behind you when the competition got heated, and the respect that came when you beat someone.
Some of today’s video games are trying to recreate the arcade experience with different multiplayer modes – “King of the Hill” on 2011’s Mortal Kombat comes to mind – but all fail to capture the real excitement. You can’t exactly bet your tickets or your slice of hot pizza over Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. I guess you could put Microsoft Points on the line or something, but it’s not the same. After we left, it made me realize how much I miss the arcades. I know I’m not alone in this thinking either after looking up videos on YouTube and seeing people who are expressing the same feeling I am. Part of me feels empowered to do something, but there’s not a whole lot you can do other than start going and pumping in the quarters again or sending letters showing interest to people who are in charge of bringing business to your city. Very few of these places are still in existence though. I guess it’s a sign of the times, but it’s still sad to look back and see how much the arcade scene has fallen and know that future generations will never get to experience that.
If you are one of the younger generation, or just have never been to an arcade, I would encourage you to go. Take a lot of quarters and dollar bills, a few friends, and go on a day where it looks like a decent amount of people are there (you may be lucky and live in an area with an arcade or two that has decent business), and just have fun. Talk, challenge people, and place some bets if you’re feeling frisky. I promise you it will beat any online multiplayer experience if you go on a good night. You might even make some new friends.
I guess those of us who know what the glory days were like will just have to either live with the memories, or if you’re like me, you can do your part to help with keeping the arcades alive. It’s highly unlikely that arcades will ever seen another “boom,” but without any sort of action, I wouldn’t be surprised if in ten years they cease to exist. As a life-long gamer and someone who thoroughly enjoys it’s many social aspects, that is a reality which scares me.