The arcade is arguably the true birthplace of video games. Certainly, it has since lost ground as computers and games consoles have taken off, and many of the most memorable titles have appeared on these home formats, but for many the arcade is the home of the most vibrant gaming experiences.
Classics of the arcade
The early classics of video games are all arcade titles. Pong, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong – these titles laid the foundation for the entire field of video games, and they did it in arcades. As games progressed, the arcades played host to more sophisticated fare such as the popular Street Fighter franchise.
The coming of home formats
Of course, as games became more complicated and immersive, arcades started to show their limitations. They were designed to be played in one sitting; many games on home formats, meanwhile, allowed players to save their games and come back for more later on, resulting in a richer gaming experience. The arcade instead became the home for specific genres, such as racers and fighters.
The arcade: a place, or a state of mind?
As physical arcades dwindle, it is interesting to note that ”arcade” has become widely used to describe a genre of game. An arcade game, then, may be played at home – it is defined not by its location, but by its style, being designed for short bursts of action-oriented play in contrast to more complex cousins such as RPGS.