Is the Arcade Game Dead?

Arcade games. They were the prime form of entertainment that we grew up on, a thrill for the masses delivered in 90 second one-credit bursts. Chock full of timers, golden rings, stars and coins they were the ultimate in fast, play and move on gaming, and allowed our younger selves to interact in a setting where the thrill of gaming and the pleasure of interacting with one another were forever intertwined in our young minds: the arcade. And yet, with the rise of personal gaming systems and more elaborate story-driven games, electronic entertainment entered a new era and arcades were left behind. One by one they closed shop, with arcade machines sold to nostalgic collectors or relegated to the back of kids-oriented pizza chains.

Today there is little room for arcade games. We moved on from quick gaming to Skyrim and instead of socializing in arcades we do it on Xbox Live. And yet Arcade games refuse to die. The fast beat-‘em-up style game or the 2d platformer have begrudgingly found new homes, whether on-line on sites like Destructoid or, on XBLA or in the indie section of Steam or other content distribution systems. Its audience is much reduced and somewhat nostalgic but the Arcade-style game still manages to keep its head above water in the age of Halo and EA Sports.

While most consoles and PC Gaming seem to have moved on and abandoned arcade style games they have started to gain popularity on other devices. Tablets and smartphones have proven to be fantastic media for arcade games. Both old school games, often emulated on cheap or free software and new imaginings of old games specially ported to the new operating systems have been quite popular but it is the new arcade-inspired games that fit the platform so well that have truly made a change in the business. In the days of the arcade people used to play 90 second to ten minute long games because the games were either short, hard or time restricted so more people could play (and therefore pay). Today people play a short game of Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds while on the subway, going to work. Real life is the time constraint nowadays and the arcade game, however basic, has become the little bit of escapism that we indulge in everyday.

The arcade game is here to stay. It might have changed beyond all recognition and moved from the big illuminated building into the palm of your hand but know that it is still here and it isn’t going anywhere.