Arcades were the Original Social Gaming Experience

The idea of social gaming was a very different concept in the early 1980s. Before people could enjoy a match over the internet and with a headset, people would have to meet up at the local arcade. The arcade was where people would meet friends and strangers in dark rooms with only neon signage and the dim glow of game screens to serve as light sources. One or two quarters was all that were required to play a game back then, rather than the $40-$60 price tag per game of today. Players would shoot villains or guide neurotic amphibians over busy roads and streams, often cooperatively.


The span of time between ’78 and ’83 is regarded as the golden era of arcade gaming. While many will recognize the title “Space Invaders,” that game gave way to “Centipede,” “Asteroids” and “Pac-Man.” While Space Invaders was such a hit that Japanese businesses would convert entirely to dedicated venues for the title, Pac-Man’s Japanese success caused a national shortage of ¥100 coins. Pac-Man enjoyed similar success in the United States and has garnered more than 10 billion quarters in profit since its genesis.


While the period of the mid-1980s was when home consoles began to gain strength, the newness of the “beat-’em-up” game genre ignited interest in the silver age of arcades. While titles like “Double Dragon” and ‘Final Fight” helped to staunch the bleeding loss of profits in arcades, arcade revenues from 1991 had dropped to nearly one-quarter of 1981’s earnings.