A Short History on Arcade Gaming

arcade ft photo

For those that were born after the year 2000, Arcades may not mean much to you, but to the oldies like me, this is where the best video games of today were born. At that time, you’ll see kids running towards arcades, asking their parents for a bunch of quarters to play with strangers and friends alike. Today, arcade gaming mostly consists of fighting and competitive games, claw games, or ticket games, so it is now a very different scene from when it started where different types of games can be seen like the old school Pacman, Galaga, Crazy Climbers, Donkey Kong, Punch Out, and a lot of other old games as well as some new ones back in the late 90’s like Metal Slug, Captain Commande, and Strider (Hiryu).


Arcade machines are just coin operated machines programmed with games to play. Once the appropriate coin is dropped in the slot, the machine will let you play the game accordingly. It was as simple as that, which is why many people easily understood the concept of arcade gaming and loved it. The arcade gaming scene started out as early as the late 1930s with the first few coin operated pinball machines. As the decades came rushing in, games became better and better, and by the late 60’s, arcade games started becoming more fun.

Donkey Kong Machine

A great example at that time where the light gun shooter games where you are given a plastic gun and point at a screen to shoot whatever is on screen. Duck Hunt was one of the popular games at that time and revolutionized shooting games that we know today, like the ever famous Time Crisis games. Racing games came out to see the light of day at this time, too. Grand Prix, which was a first person racing game came out in 1969 and started the racing game revolution with arcades. This is when developers thought that if they can make a game with a steering wheel, why not make a game with aircraft controls? So they did just that, and with the now huge variety of games in the arcades, the arcade gaming scene was starting to become a huge and profitable market.

During the 70’s, the market became a lot better with games that everyone, even kids, can play like Space Invaders and Pacman. The arcades were so popular that many food chains started adding in coin operated arcade machines in their restaurants, like Chuck E. Cheese’s and Dave and Busters.

Pacman arcade machine display
Pacman Arcade Machine Display

With the 80’s coming in with better technology being discovered, games became better with different ways to play, with the most prevalent being the motion controlled games where you can play motorcycle racing games with a plastic motorcycle that you can ride and control to control the motorcycle on the game screen. Although we’ve seen better ways to play, the arcade scene was slowly dying because people were starting to lose interest in arcade games.

We were introduced to the competitive fighting games in the early 90’s era when Capcom introduced Street Fighter 2 to the world. When the game came out, the arcade gaming scene was revived and took all the people’s quarters again.


Street Fighter 2 Arcade Machine Display
Street Fighter 2 Arcade Machine Display

Because of the success of Street Fighter and it’s competitive fighting game nature, many popular games started popping up like Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters, Virtua Fighter, and Killer Instinct. Not only that, because of the sudden rise in the arcade gaming interest, we were re-introduced to driving games like ridge Racer and Daytona USA, as well as gung ames like Time Crisis and Virtua Cop. In the mid 90’s, though, the scene was slowly losing the interest of the people because many of the games in arcades were slowly being ported over to home consoles, which gained popularity because it’s a cheaper, easier way to play games than going to the nearby arcade or food chain and dropping quarters. The decline of arcade games were so great that many arcades went out of business and many establishments aside from malls almost completely removed their arcade cabinets.

In our modern age, arcades are now mostly comprised of games that has a different method of controlling the game – not like the traditional controllers that is now a standard of the home console market. Many of the popular arcade games now are dance games that needs a dance pad, shooting games that need a light/plastic gun, or rhythm games that needs guitars or drums to play, although fighting games are still popular in arcades, the focus in arcades now is different from before whereas before, the content of the game was very important and the game had to be fun all around, but now, many of the known arcade games focus on competition with other players as a way to keep players coming back for more.

Xtension Gaming - Modern Arcade machine
Xtension Gaming - Modern Arcade Machine

Do you still play arcade games or is the console market now so good that we can just leave the arcade scene to die a slow death? In any case, many arcade games has been ported to a lot of different consoles and means, including the internet, where you can play many browser based arcade style games.

About the Author

Katie Green
Contributor – ReadWrite.com, BusinessInsider.com, Cvent.com
Loves – Gaming, Travelling, Business, Tech
“Not all those who wander are lost”

Written by Vocalzone