The History of the Video Arcade

Ah, the video arcade – the place where everyone and anyone hung out during the 70s, 80s and early 90s. How did these fascinating businesses begin? What type of games did they start out with? If you’ve ever wondered about the vast history associated with the wondrous video arcade, this is the blog post for you.

The 20th Century Arcade

Between 1905-1910, the term “penny arcades” was coined (pun intended). Filled with coin-operated devices of all kinds, residents would flock to their local penny arcade for a bit of fun and relaxation.

For a few coins, patrons could participate in games from billiards to slot machines and more. Popular machines included the fortune-telling machines (Zoltar from the movie Big, anyone?), non-electric pinball machines, and even love-tester machines.

As time progressed, more and more games were added to these arcades. This eventually led to the creation of the ever-popular video game.

The Golden Age of Arcade Games

When people began to lose interest in traditional non-electric games, electric pinball games, air hockey tables with lights and effects, coin-operated billiards tables and other games were on the rise. That is until the video game was introduced. From there, the future of the arcade changed forever.

After a few years of trial and error, the Golden Age of Arcade Games began. Games such as Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and more became so popular and sought after that the entire industry was booming. Arcade halls were filled with kids, teenagers and young adults from opening until closing. Parents began to worry that their children were skipping school to go to the arcade, which several probably were. Overall, arcade hall owners were reaping in the many, many benefits.

During this time period, the arcade game industry was heavily into innovation, new ways to captivate users and how to create the next best thing. From new methods of game play to a new construction of cabinets, the industry continued to evolve up until the late 1980s and early 1990s when a sudden lull hit the market.

With the introduction of home consoles, the Internet and other technology keeping users home, arcades began to see a sudden drastic decrease of customers. The technology used in home video game consoles heavily rivaled that of the video arcade game. Many popular arcade game characters began to have their own games created exclusively for the home consoles, leaving no reason for users to attend an arcade when their games were in the comfort of their own home.

Arcades Today

Arcades and family entertainment centers are still around and active today. However, their current presence could never rival that of the Golden Age of Arcade Games. Many loyal arcade fans continue to preserve the essence and memory of arcades through tournaments, auctions and more.

If you are interested in playing your favorite arcade games once again, stop by one of our upcoming auctions. We have multiple games and arcade items up for auction. You never know – your favorite childhood game could be at our next auction!