The death of the American Arcade has been somewhat overstated, I think. Given the rise in barcades and the growing popularity of classic arcades like Chicago’s Galloping Ghosts, Mark Twain would likely chuckle at pronouncements of the industry’s demise. People have been warning of the impending end of arcades for two decades now, but here we are. In 1998, former Sega Enterprises USA head Alan Stone said that the industry was in a state of constant evolution, and each “death” was in fact one of its many lulls. 20 years later, it seems that Stone’s prediction has rung true.
In 2010, we seemed to be experiencing one of those lulls, and arcade fans had to turn elsewhere for their arcade fix. Game com- pilations and mini arcade replicas of classic titles have helped somewhat, but neither have managed to recapture the sense of interaction and competition of the arcades of old. Microsoft seemed to understand how important these elements were to the classic gaming experience, and the publisher pressed down hard on our nostalgia nerve with the release of Game Room for the Xbox 360 and PC in 2010. The innovative concept allowed gamers to create their own customized, multi-floor arcade and stock it with classic titles from major publisher like Konami, Atari, and Activision. Each of the three floors had four separate rooms that held up to eight
cabinets, a decent number of machines. One would download free packs that included six different games (each game was $3, or $5 for use on Xbox 360 and PC). Arcade, Atari 2600, and Intellivision games were included in each pack, which also came with themed decorations like outer space and the Old West, as well as game avatars that wandered the complex. My Atari 2600 room had a cool pirate theme to it, and the dragon from Adventure intimidated the guests. It was glorious.
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