Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Did social gaming die along with arcades?

Lyndsey Mosley of Game Insurrection has an editorial up about the fall of arcades.

I think she has a bit of a point.

If you are old enough to remember the era of going to arcades and playing games and mixing with people then you're old enough to have an opinion on whether or not you think the death of arcades is a good thing or bad thing.

I myself think its a bit of a mixed blessing.

On one hand the death of the arcade shows that home gaming technology has become so advanced that nearly anything that you used to line up to pay quarters to do in a dark corner of you local mall you can now do in your home. You have TVs that display pictures that of higher quality than more arcade machines. You have sound systems that can blow the speakers of an arcade machine out of the water (and you don't have to worry about the sound of your game competing with the sound of a dozen other games either). And on top of that you will be able to play movies and watch cable/satellite on your home system in addition to video games. Did I mention that you are free to play games at your leisure? And when you organize get togethers you have control over who is there vs the random crowd you face at an arcade. So as you can see there are definitely some good points.

However at the same time it might not be so great. Think about the fact that by going out to arcades while you are mixing with random people you are in fact mixing with people. You are getting out and about and not being a shut in. Personally I am a big fan of video games and played them a lot when I was younger. However I lived hours away from the nearest arcade so other than the occasional school trip out of town I never really got to an arcade. I'm willing to bet that if I had lived near one I would not have been a shut in with mostly my SNES and Playstation to keep me company. Back in the day when you went to arcade you were with people and were socializing. These days socializing while gaming is pretty much talking over XBox Live or a voice chat client on an MMO.

Go check out Lyndsey's editorial for the full score I'm just throwing in my two cents.

I just worry that while the technology (which I'm a fan of) is getting better its contributing to the continued, if not expanding, social awkwardness that was once combated by the arcades that are nearly extinct.

3 comments:

TitforTat said...

Not only that but you got to share the odd spliff before playing. That always seemed to enhance the experience. 8-)

Eagle33 said...

You know what's so amazing about the fall of arcades?

Well, there's been a little miracle over here in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I remember in the late nineties, Granville Street used to have four arcade venues. Then one went out of business while another converted into an arcade/online gaming center. It soon went out of business along with it's neighbour a few blocks down. Only one remains and, as of now, it still miraculously stands.

A lot of their gaming lineup hasn't changed at all. Some of them date back to the early 2000 mid 2000s. You also get a few machines that are collections of classic games in one package. And pinball machines too.

I'm so surprised, with what you say Danny about the decline of arcades, that there's this one still doing brisk business in Vancouver and their games are now what people would call relics. I have to tip my hat to the owner: Somehow, he managed to stay afloat so far.

Danny said...

A lot of their gaming lineup hasn't changed at all. Some of them date back to the early 2000 mid 2000s. You also get a few machines that are collections of classic games in one package. And pinball machines too.
That's usually the key. If you looked at the article I linked to Lyndsey mentions how arcade machines themselves haven't advanced at the pace that home consoles have. In fact I think I recall someone saying a while back that at about the time of the days of the Dreamcast/PS2/N64 those consoles were on par with arcade machines and by the time the Xbox/Gamecube joined the PS2 they had surpassed them.

So at that point you are weighing paying a constant flow of money to play machines that were not as advanced as what you could get at home. That plus once you have it at home its yours forever vs. possibly going to your local arcade to see your favorite game damaged, if not replaced.

I'm so surprised, with what you say Danny about the decline of arcades, that there's this one still doing brisk business in Vancouver and their games are now what people would call relics. I have to tip my hat to the owner: Somehow, he managed to stay afloat so far.
Yeah there are rare gems here and there that still run (I'll bet you can find a few driveup theaters too) but for the most part they've died out. When you look at the technology and convenience of home gaming and places like Chuckee Cheese and Dave & Busters those old mall arcades just didn't stand a chance.

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